Katie Hill's Revenge Porn Lawsuit Against RedState.com Dismissed
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Judge Rules Against Katie Hill Again, Says Nude Hair-Brushing Pictures Show Hill’s ‘Character’ and Aren’t Revenge Porn

For the second time this month, a California judge ruled against former representative Katie Hill (D), dismissing Hill’s lawsuit over nude and compromising photos published online.

In October 2019, conservative blog RedState published an article that included a link to a photograph of Hill brushing a female staffer’s hair. Hill sued Salem Media Group, the owner of RedState, saying the photo constituted “revenge porn” that was published without her consent.

The blog answered that no “intimate body part” was shown and that the image went to Hill’s character and fitness for public office.

According to Hill’s complaint, the case “is about a man, Defendant Kenneth Heslep, stopping at nothing to destroy the life of his ex-wife.” When Hill “dared end their relationship after more than fifteen years of physical, sexual, verbal, emotional and psychological abuse that began when she was only sixteen and he was twenty,” Heslep allegedly increased his alleged abusive behavior. Hill alleged that Heslep began “threatening her with guns, controlling her sleep, appearance, medication, and travel, isolating her from family and friends, monitoring her calls, requiring passwords to her email and social media accounts and access codes to her devices, threatening and abusing her pets, interfering with the veterinary care for her pets, sexual coercion and choking.”

According to Hill, once she relocated to Washington, D.C. to join Congress, she left Heslep for good; however, in retaliation, “He enlisted right-wing politicians and websites” that “helped Heslep maximize injury to Hill, widely amplifying and publishing deeply private and degrading confidential information and false statements.”

Specifically, Hill said that RedState published an article saying that she and Heslep had had a consensual sexual relationship with a campaign staffer. The article included a link labeled “explicit image” to a nude photo of Hill brushing a woman’s hair.

Ultimately, the incident culminated in a Congressional ethics probe and Hill’s resignation from Congress.

Earlier in April, Judge Yolanda Orozco dismissed Hill’s claim against the Daily Mail, finding that the publication of the blurred nudes was protected by the First Amendment. Orozco dismissed Hill’s lawsuit against RedState on Wednesday by similarly finding that the hair-brushing photo was a “statement” or “other conduct in furtherance” of the right to free speech.

Orozco further specified that “the intimate images published by (RedState) spoke to plaintiff’s character and qualifications for her position, as they allegedly depicted Plaintiff with a campaign staffer with whom it was alleged she had a sexual affair.”

Hill reacted to the ruling on Twitter, calling RedState’s publishing of the photo a “political takedown.”

The former representative continued, tweeting that Judge Orozco’s ruling “virtually nullifies CA cyber exploitation laws and is too dangerous to let stand.” She then indicated she intends to appeal.

“It’s not going to be easy,” Hill continued. “This is uncharted legal territory, and this fight is necessary to protect women from revenge porn, once and for all.”

Hill’s tweet ended with a a plea to “help us today” and included a link where donors can contribute directly to her legal team.

Attorneys for RedState and Katie Hill did not immediately respond to request for comment.

[image via Zach Gibson/Getty Images]

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Elura is a columnist and trial analyst for Law & Crime. Elura is also a former civil prosecutor for NYC's Administration for Children's Services, the CEO of Lawyer Up, and the author of How To Talk To Your Lawyer and the Legalese-to-English series. Follow Elura on Twitter @elurananos