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Revenge porn hitting Utah

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 Utah) - An intimate picture made for personal use could go viral with the click of the mouse. It happens often when couples break up.
accused of revenge porn
accused of revenge porn
SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 Utah) – It is shocking and embarrassing for victims who suddenly find a bedroom secret out in the open.
Revenge porn is sweeping this nation and it's happening right here in Utah.
Often times the victim is a woman who discovers their intimate bedroom pictures or videos are now playing nationwide on social media. Allegedly their ex's are the one's posting these controversial images.

"I wasn't aware of it," says L.S. who talked with ABC4 on condition her name not be used. “I was in a relationship with someone.”

But L.S. had no idea her boyfriend at the time was using his cell phone to record a bedroom scene.

“How do you do that and why would you do that?” she asks.

She broke up with him and he allegedly posted the video on a website in retaliation.

“I wasn't aware of it and one of my friends saw it and told me,” she says.

L.S. was the latest victim of revenge porn.

“I was devastated,” she says. “I wanted to kill him and I haven't talked to him since.”

It's happening to many women all across the nation. Ex's are taking it out on their former wife or girlfriend.

“You can send videos, you can send pictures and can put them up on this amateur porn website and they'll make money off it,” says Deborah Dilley with the Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault. “The owners of the website are making a lot of money off of it."

The first two cases of revenge porn are now making their way through the Utah court system.

Kenneth Winward allegedly sent pornographic images of his former girlfriend to her family, including a 13-year old girl.
Shon Handrahan is accused of sending pornographic pictures of his estranged wife to family members.

“We currently have in our system different statues that are available,” says Salt Lake District Attorney Sim Gill. “They sort of fit but don't completely fit.”

That's why L.S. never filed a police report.

“I talked with someone about it and I guess the content doesn't exactly fit a crime so I haven't looked any further into it,” she says.

And there may be many other victims just like L.S. who refuse to file.

“For many victims they're not going to report this because it's really embarrassing the fact anyone can do a search and something like this could pull up,” says Dilley.

Prosecutors in Davis and Utah County are hoping the pornography charges against Winward and Handrahan will stick.

“Once you hit eighteen as an adult there's really nothing that can be done as far as the distribution of pornography charges,” says Rep. Paul Ray.

Rep. Ray is considering sponsoring a revenge porn law in Utah but is worried about court challenges.
California recently passed a revenge porn law but constitutional issues may stand in the way.

“A lot of this is a gray area,” says Rep. Ray. “I think we have to look at our current laws and see where those would fall in.”

But advocates say no one's watching for the rights of victims.

“They expected it to be private use not so that when they're done in a relationship that person would try to exercise power and control over them in a relationship by trying to embarrass them and humiliate them," says Dilley.

L.S. knows that with a click of a mouse her private life is out there for anyone to see. And like other victims they didn't sign up for this.

“They're upset about it, they're embarrassed about it,” says L.S. “But it's got to stop. “It's got to stop somewhere.”

For now, the likelihood lawmakers will create a revenge porn law in Utah may not be realistic. Lawmakers like Rep. Ray say there are too many questions about such a law.
Legal experts also say charges against the two Utah men accused of revenge porn may have a difficult time in court.
The best advice from advocates is to be careful. If you pose for the camera it may go viral and there's little you can do about it.
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