Internet Law

Prosecutor's nude photos ended up on Twitter; she blames prominent lawyer, her ex, in complaint

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The prosecuting attorney for a Virginia county claims nude photos of herself ended up on Twitter because her ex-boyfriend—a prominent Missouri lawyer—put them there.

Denise Lunsford, the commonwealth’s attorney for Albemarle County, Va., is seeking an order of protection against the lawyer, David Cosgrove, a former top aide to Missouri Gov. Bob Holden, report the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Associated Press, and NBC29.

Lunsford, 49, says she was unaware that most of the photos had been taken, an assertion disputed by Cosgrove. She is asking a court to issue an order barring Cosgrove from communicating with her and to stop posting her name or image on social media. The nude photos have since been taken down, AP says.

According to Lunsford’s complaint, she and Cosgrove dated when they were students at Washington & Lee School of Law in the 1980s, and then again last September, the AP story says. After they broke up, she alleges, he texted and called her so often that she changed her phone number.

Cosgrove claims she is seeking the protective order to punish him and advance her political ambitions.

“Ms. Lunsford apparently hoped to silence a former lover’s constitutionally protected speech because that speech might harm her political career,” Cosgrove said in his response to the complaint. “Legitimate fear of harm was not driving her actions; Mr. Cosgrove has never injured or threatened Ms. Lunsford, has not come within 700 miles during the last three months, and has sent her only three docile electronic communications in the last month. Accordingly, the petition was filed and pursued without basis.”

Cosgrove said Lunsford had emailed one of the nude pictures to him, and was aware he had taken other pictures, NBC29 says. She even looked at the digital pictures and deleted the ones she considered unflattering, Cosgrove alleges.

A lawyer in Clayton, Mo., he was formerly Missouri’s Commissioner of Securities, chief legal counsel for the Missouri governor’s office, chief consumer protection prosecutor in the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office, and a special assistant U.S. Attorney in Massachusetts, according to his online bio.

Related coverage: “How to battle revenge porn? Calif. lawmakers pass law; prof sees no-nude-photo solution”

Updated at 10:25 a.m. to fix typo.

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