Is Colorado's revenge porn law working?

DENVER -- It's happened to famous women, like sports broadcaster Erin Andrews when she was secretly recorded in a hotel room in 2008 or when SNL star Leslie Jones was hacked and her nude photos were spread online. Since Colorado’s revenge porn law was passed three years ago, a Denver Post investigation found that there have been 200 charges and of those only a 36 percent conviction rate.

Local civil attorney Cassandra Kirsch spoke to Denver7 about the clients she represents.

"Revenge porn really covers a wide gamut of acts including where the pictures were not given consensually. And so those are situations where someone's sexual assault was recorded," said Kirsch.

In the three years since House Bill 14-1378 became law, Kirsch said there are plenty of weaknesses, in part because it's hard to prove who posted the compromising photos or videos.

"Someone has sent the same nude picture to ten people on Tinder or previous boyfriends or girlfriends, it’s difficult to determine who exactly posted that picture," said Kirsch.

And even if someone can prove who posted them:

"The law itself doesn't necessarily get their photos taken down. If you get an order from the court stating that this is a revenge porn violation, either civil or criminal law, these websites are going to comply," she said.

A Denver Post investigation found that there have been 192 misdemeanor cases for non-consensual pornography filed since the bill became law in July 2014. 

A woman recently filed a lawsuit in Denver District Court accusing her ex-boyfriend of posting her nude photos on a porn site called Voyeur Web after she broke up with him in July of 2016. She claimed her ex, Byron Rodenburg, did not want the relationship to end, and continued to harass her.

In August, court documents detail how she claimed she told Rodenburg to leave her alone and blocked him from contacting her through Verizon, Facebook, What’s App, Hotmail and Gmail. 

In November, Rodenburg allegedly created an account on the pornography website using her name and birthday, without her knowledge or permission. 

The intimate pictures, she says were originally sent to Rodenburg during their relationship. The woman says she was alerted by strangers who contacted her through Facebook after they Googled her to find her information after the viewed the pictures.

The attorneys didn't even use the revenge porn law, instead relied on laws aimed at defamation and invasion of privacy. Kirsch says one of the reasons could be filing under the revenge porn law doesn't guarantee anonymity.

"Even if they proceed as a 'John Doe' or a 'Jane Doe,' often times there are enough facts in the complaint for people to connect the dots and figure out who it is," said Kirsch.

Rodenburg claims all the charges are false and that his ex is only lashing out at him.

Lawmakers last year, introduced a federal bill to make it a crime to distribute explicit photos of someone without their permission. Kirsch also says she is working with Colorado lawmakers to make improvements to the law.

Kirsch also suggests, if you are a victim of revenge porn, to report it to law enforcement because they have more power to subpoena websites like Google or Craigslist, and can move quicker than civil attorneys.

To read the full Denver Post investigation, click here.

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