Revenge Porn case prompts call for change to state law



Posted on July 4, 2014 at 4:49 AM

SEATTLE - She needed to transfer some data from her old computer to a new one.  So she hired a self-described computer technician from Craigslist and paid him $60 to make the quick fix. She had never met him before and never saw him again.

That’s the story laid out by King County prosecutors in a two count allegation against 30-year-old Jeremy Scott Walters, who they say stole pictures off of the woman’s hard drive and then uploaded them to a “revenge porn” website.

The woman says she hired Walters back in 2011 and thought everything was fine until more than two years later.  The woman told police she started receiving harassing phone calls in December of 2013 and discovered her photos had been uploaded to the site.  They had also been emailed to her family and friends.

She told police the whole incident had been “very traumatic” for her, and that she feared for her safety and well being.

Detectives said they were able to trace the photos back to Walters, who allowed them to search his North Seattle apartment, where they discovered the photos on his hard drive. Prosecutors say they don’t know his motive, other than the chance to hurt someone.

The whole case has reignited the debate over legislation to govern the “Revenge Porn” websites.

“The damage that is done is unbelievably serious,” said Representative Reuven Carlyle, (D) Seattle, who co-sponsored a bill that would have made “distributing intimate images a class C felony”.

It did not get out of committee.

“You can never recover that aspect of your reputation, you can sometimes never recover emotionally, there is incredible damage,” said Carlyle, who suggests he will pitch the bill again in the next legislative session.

“I think it needs to be revived,” says Rep. Tina Orwall, (D) Federal Way, who sponsored a similar bill.  It also did not get out of committee.

“There is some discussion about whether it should be handled in the civil or criminal courts,” said Orwall. “It’s serious. It can do damage to a person, that’s why I signed.”

Both representatives say Washington needs to act cautiously and take advice from states like California, which have passed legislation on the topic.

In this case, the Washington legislation would have enhanced the potential penalties for Walters. Dan Donahoe, a spokesperson for King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg, said the 30-year-old is only facing 90 days in jail if convicted of the current charges.

Professional technicians say the case should make people think twice about how they handle what seems like a routine job. 

“Anytime you give someone hands on access to your computer, you’re at risk,” said Richard Martin, co-owner of Ravenna’s Progressive Tech, a data recovery and transfer specialist.  “Data recovery and moving data around, there are a lot of shady businesses. If you’re hiring a freelancer who is coming to your location, that is something you can supervise.”

“Freelancers don’t have the tools that the shop would,” added Martin.