Kamala Harris: Lives ruined, women terrified in 'revenge porn' case

Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris talks about lives that were ruined because of #revengeporn

The victims were embarrassed, shamed and left feeling helpless after discovering their nude photographs had been posted online.

One woman even attempted suicide.

In the latest case of what's become known as "revenge porn,"  mothers, daycare operators, wives of military personnel, teachers and young women were targeted.

Their lives were completely altered, their reputations and job opportunities damaged -- after photographs appeared without their permission on Kevin Christopher Bollaert’s website UGotPosted.com, said California Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris.

“Part of what is insidious, in terms of the nature of this defendant’s conduct, is in every way he constructed a scheme to ... make these victims feel as small and isolated as possible,” Harris said at a news conference Tuesday.

On Monday, 28-year-old Bollaert was convicted of six counts of extortion and 21 counts of identity theft, all felonies. He faces up to 23 years in prison when sentenced April 3, Harris said.

Bollaert was accused of operating a website posting nude and sexually explicit photographs that were provided by ex-boyfriends and ex-husbands or that had been stolen.

Harris said that during the eight-day trial 25 victims and four digital forensic experts testified, revealing 10,000 photographs of victims of cyber exploitation.

The women described “losing their jobs, experiencing severe depression and shame and weathering terrible effects on personal relationships,” she said.

Prosecutors said Bollaert operated the websites UGotPosted.com and ChangeMyReputation.com. Investigators conducted a six-month-long probe, finding that he created UGotPosted.com in December 2012 and began allowing people to post women's photographs anonymously. He was arrested Dec. 10, 2013.

The photographs went up without the women’s consent, yet Bollaert charged them $250 to $350 to have their pictures removed, Harris said.

According to Harris, Bollaert earned $30,000 by essentially extorting money from his victims.

“He understood that he could manipulate victims," Harris said, "in particular these women."

He posted their names, their city of residence, a link to their Facebook and other personal information on his sites, Harris said. He allowed people to comment on their profiles. The victims faced threats of rape and assault.

Their photos were easily seen online. Nude pictures of them could be found by searching for a victim’s name. Victims came from California, Texas, Virginia, Colorado, New York and New Jersey.

One woman, a daycare operator, sent her husband of 20 years nude photographs while he was on a trip to China. The photos wound up on Bollaert's website. Attached to the photographs was her online resume, including a home address.

“She was terrified of course not only for the safety of her family, but the children she was entrusted to care for,” Harris said.

Another woman was drugged at a party, disrobed and photographed in compromising positions. The photographs were later posted to UGotPosted.com. And the aftermath was devastating.

She lost friends and a romantic relationship, Harris said.

One of Bollaert’s victims was 17 when she took photographs of herself for fun, Harris said. But her cellphone was stolen and the photographs later appeared on the website. Her family disowned her and she lost friends.

Harris said the woman testified: “My mom even went as far as trying to beat me up over it, and I got kicked out, and right now I don’t have a home.”

In instances of revenge porn, photographs are usually obtained during the course of a relationship or are stolen. In October 2013, Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law a bill placing penalties and jail time on those convicted of revenge porn.

In this case, Bollaert was charged with extortion and identity theft.

Bollaert’s attorney, Emily Rose-Weber, maintains her client did not violate the law.

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Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times

UPDATE

2:49 p.m.: Article updated after Kamala Harris news conference.

The post originally published at 10 a.m.

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