Revenge Porn Perpetrator Prosecuted in Scotland

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In early September, a Northumberland man became the first person convicted under Scotland’s new revenge porn law. The Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm Act of 2016 went into effect on the 3rd of July this year, making it a crime to ‘disclose or threaten to disclose an intimate photograph or film’ without first obtaining consent from the subject. So called ‘revenge porn’ is traditionally perpetrated by exes, using videos or images which were consensual when taken, but never intended to be shared publically.

Fifty-nine-year-old Kenneth Robinson threatened to unload an explicit video of his former partner to the internet. When confronted with his emails, he pled guilty at Jedburgh Sheriff Court and was sentenced to a £200 fine as well as a three-year court order forbidding contact with the victim.

While the sentence is relatively mild, Anne-Marie Hicks, national procurator for domestic abuse, believes this first conviction sends a ‘clear message’ that actions or threats of this nature are unacceptable and will result in legal consequences. She hopes that the outcome will provide reassurance to victims who may be embarrassed or fear blame if they come forward.

Revenge Porn Is a Criminal Offense Throughout the UK

The Scottish law mirrors Section 33 of the Criminal Justice and Courts Act of 2015 which made revenge porn a criminal offense in England and Wales as of April 2015. Similar to the Scottish measure, this law defines ‘disclosing a private sexual photograph or film’ without the consent of the subject as a crime; however, it also stipulates that the perpetrator must intend to cause ‘distress’ to their victim, making it harder to prosecute third-party perpetrators who may re-share material they’ve received from others.

In its first year, the revenge porn law in England and Wales resulted in more than 200 prosecutions. This is a small number in comparison to the scope of the problem, which has spread beyond the traditional ex scenario to include fake internet profiles aimed at luring in victims and obtaining explicit video directly for the purpose of extortion. However in comparison to previous UK laws, some of which dated back as far as 1988 and were obviously not designed to cover revenge porn, it represents a remarkable step forward.

What If You Are a Victim?

Victims who come forward quickly, as in the Scottish case, can protect their reputation by preventing the material from ever being uploaded. Once explicit material is shared across the internet, it becomes more and more difficult — if not impossible — to track down every iteration and bring every perpetrator to justice. And as long as the images are available publically, they will detract from your career and make it difficult to build new relationships.

If you think you may be a victim of revenge porn, it’s important to remain calm and act rationally. Save any material which may be relevant to your case (emails, texts, phone records etc.) and contact the police as soon as possible, (especially if the victim is under 16). Think hard about whether it’s appropriate to contact the perpetrator. In general, this is a bad idea, unless there’s a chance it may be a misguided prank which can be cleared up through communication. Avoid talking about the problem except with family or close friends. This could hurt your case, as well as attracting more visitors and increasing search rankings for the shared material.

Finally, start rebuilding your online reputation as soon as possible. At Reputation Defender we offer assistance with removal when appropriate and can help to create and rank positive professional content that will portray you in a better light. Visit our website to learn more.

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