Politics

Out former Congresswoman sues Christian website for publishing revenge porn of her

Rep. Katie Hill
Rep. Katie HillPhoto: Campaign website

Out former Rep. Katie Hill (D-CA) is suing her ex-husband Kenny Heslep and several rightwing media outlets for publishing revenge porn of her last year.

The lawsuit accuses Heslep – along with RedState, the Daily Mail, and several editors and employees at the media outlets – of making “nonconsensual porn” using naked images of her and seeks unspecified damages for emotional distress and violating a California law against distribution of intimate personal material without consent.

Related: A “family values”congressman from Texas is apologizing after graphic photo surfaces

“Less than five months after the breakup, naked images of Hill that only Heslep had previously possessed were published globally on the internet, alongside intimate text messages and cruel lies,” the lawsuit says. “Media defendants helped Heslep maximize injury to Hill, widely amplifying and publishing deeply private and degrading confidential information and false statements, all supplied by Heslep.”

In October 2019, Hill resigned from Congress after RedState reported on an affair between Hill and a male staffer, in violation of House ethics rules. RedState published nude photos of her.

She denied the affair with the male staffer but admitted to a relationship with a female campaign staffer before she was elected to Congress, putting it out of the scope of House ethics rules. A week later, Hill announced her resignation.

“I’m leaving, but we have men who have been credibly accused of intentional acts of sexual violence and remain in boardrooms, on the Supreme Court, in this very body, and worst of all, in the Oval Office,” she said in her farewell address.

In her resignation letter, she said “hateful political operatives” and her “abusive husband” leaked photos of her and that media outlets would “happily provide a platform to a monster who is driving a smear campaign built around cyber exploitation.”

Editors for RedState – a Christian conservative blog – defended the decision to publish the revenge porn by saying that they “decided it was important that there was solid evidence of the relationship(s) that may have violated House ethics.”

Several days after she announced her resignation, the British tabloid The Daily Mail also published naked pictures of her.

A few weeks ago, a judge approved a temporary restraining order against Heslep, her ex-husband. Hill said that he abused her during their 15-year relationship, choked her until she passed out, made threats against her pets, threatened her with a gun, and published revenge porn of her. Heslep was ordered to stay 100 yards away from her.

In her lawsuit filed this week, Hill says that the restraining order angered Heslep and that he tried “to humiliate her further, harder, louder and more viciously; even publishing new naked images they know were taken and disseminated without Hill’s consent.”

“The First Amendment does not provide a carte blanche right to sexually degrade and expose public officials,” the complaint says. “This right does not extend to the nonconsensual dissemination of nude images where, as here, the depicted person had a reasonable expectation of privacy.”

In 2018, Hill became the first out bisexual person elected to Congress. Earlier this year, she wrote a book entitled She Will Rise: Becoming a Warrior in the Battle for True Equality.

Kamala Harris’s replacement in the Senate has already worked hard for LGBTQ voters

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