Revenge Porn Site Operator Kevin Bollaert Sentenced to Prison

https://www.theblot.com/revenge-porn-site-operator-kevin-bollaert-sentenced-to-prison-7740211
Kevin Bollaert, 28, appears at a sentencing hearing on April 3. Bollaert was sentenced to 18 years in prison for running a ‘revenge porn’ website. (KNSD-TV photo)

A California man was sentenced to more than 18 years in prison last week for running a so-called “revenge porn” website that once featured tens of thousands of nude and sexually explicit images of women.

Kevin Bollaert, 28, of San Diego was charged in December 2013 for creating and operating the website UGotPosted.com, which featured thousands of explicit images of women that were either stolen or submitted by ex-boyfriends, husbands and other people with the intent to humiliate and embarrass the subjects following a breakup.

The images often contained personal information of the women depicted, as well as links to their social media websites. Prosecutors said Bollaert operated a second website, ChangeMyReputation.com, in which he promised to remove the images and associated personal information for a fee of up to $350.

The homepage of the now-defunct website ChangeMyReputation.com. (Photo: Internet Archive / TheBlot)

The homepage of the now-defunct website ChangeMyReputation.com. (Photo: Internet Archive/TheBlot Magazine)

California was one of the first states to pass a comprehensive law outlawing the operation of a revenge porn website. But Bollaert was not charged under California’s revenge porn law because the statute makes posting nude images of victims without their consent a misdemeanor punishable by six months in jail or a $1,000 fine.

Instead, California’s Attorney General Kamala Harris opted to charge Bollaert with identity theft and extortion — both crimes that carried stronger penalties.

Bollaert was convicted on more than two dozen charges in February. Shortly after his conviction, he was as saying he understood why people would be hurt by his website, but didn’t feel he had committed any crime.

But attorneys representing him tried to turn around those remarks at sentencing last week, saying the man who ran one of the most-profitable revenge porn websites on the Internet lacked social support and had been unduly influenced by his peers.

“The reality is that young people can feed off each other,” defense attorney Lindsey Mercer said at the sentencing. “Bad ideas can grow, and bad ideas can go unchecked when people aren’t around the kind of positive environment that they should be.”

Bollaert’s parents also came to the man’s defense, saying in a statement read in court that the revenge porn website operator “has said many times he wishes he never made the website.”

“If he could go back and change it all, he would,” Bollaert’s parents said, adding that the man had expressed remorse for his actions.

But those words were little comfort for the dozens of women who had been victimized and extorted by the website. One victim said she was twice committed to a mental hospital and had been taking medication for anxiety because of the images Bollaert had posted on his site.

“It’s been so traumatizing,” the victim said. “I just want my life to get back to the way it was.”

Bollaert had been facing a maximum of 20 years in prison. The judge who sentenced Bollaert on Friday said he stacked the sentences because there were multiple victims, . He will be eligible for parole after serving 10 years in prison.

In addition to the prison sentence, Bollaert will be required to pay $10,000 in restitution. Prosecutors had argued the man made tens of thousands of dollars during the one year period his website was active.

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Although the case wasn’t tried under a revenge porn law, it was one of a handful of recent prosecutions showing law enforcement officials cracking down on sex extortion websites.

Last year, a different California man was sentenced to jail for posting topless photos of his former partner to the Facebook page of her employer. For it, Noe Iniguez became the first person sentenced under the state’s revenge porn law.

Two other men were arrested last year on federal charges stemming from the operation of an infamous revenge porn website called IsAnyoneUp.com. Hunter Moore, the chief operator of the site, after reaching a plea agreement with prosecutors in February. Co-conspirator Charles Evens was scheduled to go on trial in March.

More than a dozen states, including California, on the books. California’s law previously only applied to nude images of a person that were taken by another person and distributed without the subject’s consent; the law to include so-called “selfies,” or images taken of one’s self.

Revenge porn laws are not without critics, with civil liberties groups warning the laws could infringe on free speech rights.

In 2013, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) , warning that posting nude images of women constituted “lawful speech … even if (the images were) offensive or emotionally distressing.”

Matthew Keys is a contributing journalist for TheBlot Magazine

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