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Man ordered to pay nearly $6.5 million to ex-girlfriend in L.A. 'revenge porn' case

A man has been ordered to pay nearly $6.5 million to an ex-girlfriend who accused him of spreading intimate photos of her online and soliciting sex from strangers on her behalf, a judgment her attorney says is one of the largest in a non-celebrity "revenge porn" case.

A federal judge issued a default judgment last week against David Elam II after he failed to respond or show up to court proceedings. The award covers $3 million in both compensatory and punitive damages, as well as $450,000 in damages for spreading copyrighted images, according to federal court records.

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"This was a long road and we are very, very satisfied with the result," said Seth Gold, an attorney who represented the unnamed woman, referred to in court records as Jane Doe. "We believe it sends the message that this is a serious violation of a person's rights."

Elam could not be reached for comment.

According to court records, Elam and the woman started dating in late 2012 in Los Angeles, where the woman lived while attending school. They continued their relationship when Elam moved to Virginia. During that time, the woman sent Elam sexually explicit photos and videos of herself that he agreed to keep private, the woman alleged in court records.

After their breakup in May 2013, Elam called the woman and "threatened to ruin her life," she alleged in her complaint. He then used suggestive photographs of her to create a profile on online dating site OkCupid, distributing her phone number and address while encouraging users to send sexual images of themselves, the complaint said.

The woman received about 30 messages from strangers, some of whom sent explicit images. One man said he was on his way to her home.

Photos and an explicit video of her were also posted on several pornography websites and another dating website. By July 2013, when the material was posted to a revenge porn website, she'd had most of it copyrighted.

The woman sued Elam in federal court in 2014, about a year after California's revenge porn law took effect. That law makes it a crime to distribute intimate photos or videos of someone without their consent, knowing it will cause emotional distress.

"Revenge porn is a very serious violation of a person's rights and can lead to grave injuries," Gold said. "We pursued this case in an effort to right a wrong that our client suffered."

Twitter: @AleneTchek

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