“Revenge Porn” has entered the vernacular of every day New Yorkers and it appears as if it is here to stay. With the proliferation of social media, Revenge Porn, and the pictures or videos that it consists of, reeks havoc on the people who are reflected or portrayed in the online imagery. While there very well may be civil avenues to hold perpetrators of Revenge Porn accountable for their postings and sharing, what, if any, criminal remedies exists? Is there a Revenge Porn statute or crime in the New York Penal Law? For better or worse, the answer is no, but does that mean those who post Revenge Porn are free from arrest or prosecution in New York City or New York State?
In People v. Barber, 2013NY059761, NYLJ 1202644738008, at *1 (Crim., NY, Decided February 18, 2014), the defendant allegedly posted nude photographs of the complainant, his former girlfriend, to his own Twitter account and shared the same with his ex-girlfriend’s employer and sister. This was done without the complainant’s consent. As a result of this conduct, the New York County (Manhattan) District Attorney’s Office charged the defendant with Aggravated Harassment in the Second Degree, New York Penal Law 240.30(1)(a), Dissemination of an Unlawful Surveillance Image in the Second Degree, New York Penal Law 250.55 and Public Display of Offensive Sexual Material, New York Penal Law 245.11(a). The defendant brought a motion to dismiss all charges. Although the Court found that defendant’s conduct was despicable, it nevertheless determined that the defendant did not violate any criminal statute for which he was charged.