orangeleader.com (Orange, Texas)

February 3, 2013

More than revenge, it’s cyber rape

Dawn Burleigh
The Orange Leader

ORANGE — Texxxan.com may be ‘down’ at the moment but the damage the site has placed on some area women has been done.

The ‘revenge porn’ website is but one of many allowing people to anonymously post nude photos along with personal information about women.

The result is women, like Kelly Hinson of Orange, who lose more than just their privacy.

“No one remembers the good things you do,” Hinson said. “The volunteer work and the benefits organized, all forgotten.”

Hinson does not know who sent her picture to the site as the person in possession of them died 2-3 months before the photographs were posted.

“We think we are safe and pictures are private because they are only on our computer or our phones,” Hinson said. “I never sent my pictures to anyone.”

John Morgan, a Beaumont attorney representing Hinson and other girls in a class action lawsuit, said it was very easy to steal pictures from a cell phone.

Hinson said the comments on the photos were most disturbing.

“The comments were about my being pregnant and telling me I should have an abortion,” Hinson said. “There was a link to my personal Facebook page.”

Hinson’s mother found the pictures posted at the revenge site through a link on a Facebook page.

Hinson tried hiding the situation from her dad. Her dad asked her about it after a neighbor brought it to his attention.

“All I could say was I did not want to talk about it,” Hinson said.

Texxxan.com held a poll at one point asking if they should reload the site before the site was suspended.

“The poll was 274 to reload, I refreshed the page and it read 1,200 to reload” Hinson said. “That was in a 15 minute time span.”

GoDaddy.com has suspended the site according to Morgan.

Hinson tried reporting the website to the Orange County Sheriff’s Department when she first discovered the pictures.

The defectives, according to HInson, said there was nothing they could do.

Current laws such as Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act provides legal protection to operators of websites. Section 230 grants interactive online services of all types broad immunity from certain types of legal liability stemming from content created by others.

OC Sheriff Department Sergeant Chad Hogan said one needs to prove they were a juvenile at the time the picture was taken.

“Then it becomes child pornography,” Hogan said.

Hogan also said the Sheriff’s Department tries to educate young people through school and church functions about sending pictures to people.

“You just don’t know where it is going to go from there,” Hogan said.

Orange County Sheriff’s office could not comment directly on any of the cases as the investigations are ongoing. They did confirm they are investigating at least four cases involved with the website.

Hinson said revenge sites completely ruin the image of the persons in the photographs.

“It’s not ‘Hey, I’m mad, let’s embarrass them’,” Hinson said. “In pornography, that was a choice. We did not have a choice.”

Hinson said that because of the damage created from her pictures posted at the site, she will have to move from the area when her child is born.

“People do not forget and will always associate me with this,” Hinson said. “Now I cannot raise my child in the town I grew up in.”

Hinson attempted to have the pictures removed from the site on her own. She tried to file a police report, a Digital Millennium Copyright Act and sent sixty emails, all which were ignored.

“When one of the girls contacted me to say there was a lawyer willing to help them, I felt so relieved,” Hinson said. “It is one thing to bully someone, but another to put someone’s life at risk, especially when they are pregnant. It is not just me I have to worry about.”

Hinson, has had to deal with men approaching her while shopping. One man told her that he saved her pictures to his computer so he could look at them whenever he wanted.

“I went to a restaurant with a friend a few days ago,” Hinson said. “When we walked in a table of 9-10 people stopped talking and then started pointing at me. We knew what they were talking about. My friend asked if I wanted to leave. But it happens everywhere I go.”

Morgan said that when he was first approached about the case he did not ‘get it’.

“I read the laws, looked at the sites, I did not get ‘it’,” Morgan said. “I met the girls, and I got it. It humanized them. These are not bad girls like so many think when they first hear about it. It is time for me to do what lawyers are suppose to do - help people.”

Morgan said this is an important issue that needs to be faced.

“It is not a national issue, it is worldwide,” Morgan said. “The industry is growing. It is in India, Japan, and Russia. Eastern Europe is the worse.”

Morgan said that sex sells and is everywhere in society today which desensitize men to understand what they are doing when they post to the websites.

“This is progressive human trafficking through the Internet,” Morgan said. “This is not adult entertainment. It is cyber rape and human trafficking.”

Morgan said the girls could be one’s sister, co-worker or mother.

“These girls will still be a victim five, ten years from now,” Morgan said. “The Internet is forever, and forever does not go away.”

Some of the pictures posted are more than ten years old.

“Let’s flip this. If it was a teenage boy posting the pictures and making the comments?” Morgan said. “What standard would you teach your son? Would you congratulate him or punish him?”



Dawn Burleigh is a reporter at The Orange Leader. She can be reached at dawnb@orangeleader.com and followed on Twitter @DawnBurleigh