Trials & Litigation

Former law student obtains $6.45M judgment in revenge porn case

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A former law student in California has obtained a $6.45 million default judgment against a former boyfriend accused of posting her intimate photos after their breakup.

The woman, identified as “Jane Doe” in the case, was awarded $3 million in compensatory damages, $3 million in punitive damages and $450,000 for copyright infringement, report Law360 and CNN.

U.S. District Judge Philip Gutierrez of Los Angeles entered the judgment on April 4 when he signed a proposed default judgment against the defendant, David K. Elam II, according to K&L Gates. Its lawyers represented Doe for free.

Elam had posted sexually explicit photographs and videos of Doe on the internet, and sent links to the material to her mother and a law school classmate, according to the default judgment. Elam impersonated Doe on dating and porn websites, resulting in unwanted texts from strange men who believed Doe to be interested “in indiscriminate sexual relations,” the document said.

Elam continued his conduct after Doe obtained a restraining order requiring him to remove the material from the internet and to stop impersonating Doe, the judgment said. Besides awarding damages, Gutierrez also required Elam to destroy the photos and videos.

Doe had initially sent the sexually explicit materials to Elam at his request after he moved to Virginia and she remained in California. She later registered the material with the U.S. Copyright Office to file the infringement action..

See also: Victims are taking on ‘revenge porn’ websites for posting photos they didn’t consent to

Besides infringement, the suit had alleged infliction of emotional distress, cyberstalking, and online impersonation with intent to cause harm.

Doe was represented by lawyers from K&L Gates’ Cyber Civil Rights Legal Project, a team of pro bono lawyers representing “revenge porn” victims. The award is the second-largest in a revenge porn case that doesn’t involve a celebrity, according to the law firm. The highest award, $8.9 million, was also obtained with the help of the project.

In 2016, federal prosecutors had dropped criminal charges filed against Elam, according to a New York Times story. K&L Gates partner Seth Gold told CNN that the civil case did not rely on the outcome of the criminal action.

Corrected on April 13 to report that the materials were registered with the U.S. Copyright Office.

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