- A judge dismissed Katie Hill’s lawsuit against the Daily Mail over the outlet publishing nude photos of her.
- The judge ruled that the photos were a matter of public concern. Hill’s attorney said they intend on appealing the case.
- The former congresswoman accused the judge of thinking “revenge porn is free speech.”
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Los Angeles Judge Yolanda Orozco ruled Wednesday that the photos were “a matter of public issue or public interest,” the Orange County Register reported.
“Here, the intimate images published by [the Mail] spoke to [Hill’s] character and qualifications for her position, as they allegedly depicted [Hill] with a campaign staffer whom she was alleged to have had a sexual affair with and appeared to show [Hill] using a then-illegal drug and displaying a tattoo that was controversial because it resembled a white supremacy symbol that had become an issue during her congressional campaign,” the judge wrote.
“I sued the Daily Mail for their publication of my nonconsensual nude images,” Hill wrote in the tweet on Wednesday. “Today, we lost in court because a judge – not a jury – thinks revenge porn is free speech.”
“This fight has massive implications for any woman who ever wants to run for office, so quitting isn’t an option,” she added.
Hill filed a lawsuit under the “revenge porn law” against the Daily Mail, her ex-husband Kenny Heslep, and Salem Media Group, which owns the conservative blog RedState which published a nude picture of Hill with a campaign aide in 2019.
The ex-Congresswoman was elected as a Democratic representative from California in 2018. In 2019, allegations emerged that Hill had sexual relationships with campaign and congressional staffers, which she initially denied but later confirmed she had a relationship with one campaign staffer. In late October, the Daily Mail published nude photos of her with a campaign aide, which prompted the Hill’s lawsuit against the tabloid. She resigned in light of the nude photos and allegations.
She sued her ex-husband, accusing him of leaking the photos to RedState and the Daily Mail. The media outlets maintained that the publication of the photos was not in violation of the law under the First Amendment.
Legal experts told Insider’s Jacob Shamsian that the lawsuit may not stand in court because of the First Amendment, but the suit against Hill’s ex-husband still has good chances.
The judge ruled that the photos reflected Hill’s “character, judgment and qualifications for her congressional position.”
Hill’s attorney Carrie A. Goldberg tweeted that they intend on appealing the case, saying that she and Hill think an “appellate court will disagree” that the publication of the photos are protected under the First Amendment and that the case was dismissed on anti-SLAPP grounds.
Goldberg added that dismissing the case “sets a dangerous precedent for victims of nonconsensual pornography everywhere.”
“Anybody who dares enter the public eye should now have legitimate concern that old nude and sexual images can be shared widely and published by any person or media purporting to have journalistic intentions,” Goldberg wrote. “This ruling has the exact opposite effect California’s revenge porn intended – which was to reduce and not amplify or promote nude images without consent.”
“Today we have victims of revenge porn who are being frozen out – who are losing access to our judicial system and the freedom to dream big if they have anybody in their past with nude images they can share,” Goldberg continued.
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