U.S. Rep. Katie Hill didn’t have to resign, but she did. She had not been found guilty of sexual impropriety, although the House Ethics Committee had launched a formal investigation into whether the married California representative had engaged in an affair with a congressional staffer.

Hill denied the affair with her male staff member, but after intimate photographs of the openly bisexual politician and a female former campaign worker surfaced, Hill took to the airwaves to defend herself. She revealed she was embroiled in a nasty divorce and that her private emails and the photos had been leaked by “my abusive husband who seems determined to humiliate me.” Hill’s husband denies the charge.

This case raises a lot of issues, including the ever increasing lack of due process before someone is driven from their chosen career. But at its core, this is about one person (whoever that might have been) seeking to damage another by releasing nude, sexually explicit photos on the internet. While there is no federal law against this “revenge porn,” it is now illegal in 46 states.

Sound like progress, right? Not so fast. Even though about a half-dozen states consider revenge porn cases to be a felony, most state laws are weak. The crime is usually categorized as misdemeanor “harassment” and not the obvious and most devastatingly personal “invasion of privacy.” This hardly makes sense.

Think of it this way. Courts have ruled you have a constitutionally protected right to privacy, the right to, literally, be left alone. There are stringent laws in this country that forbid, among other things, the unauthorized release of your medical records or your Social Security information. If someone uses an electronic device or long-range camera to eavesdrop on or photograph you in your home, that is an invasion of your privacy. So why would someone who causes a person’s most intimate moments to be posted in perpetuity for all the world to see be any less blameworthy for invasion of privacy?

The perpetrator can be a spurned lover who wants revenge on a former partner. It could be a stranger hacking into random women’s accounts looking for salacious materials to sell to porn sites. To me, the perp’s motive doesn’t really matter. What matters is that the name of the victim is also released along with the photos, clear proof that someone’s constitutional right to privacy has been violated.

Yes, the victim can go through a lengthy and expensive process of filing a civil suit against the culprit. Some of these have ended with multimillion-dollar judgments against the defendant, but these awards often go uncollected. Ex-boyfriends don’t usually have millions in the bank. Wouldn’t it be better, in the public’s best interest, if these cases were tried in criminal court so the accused, if convicted, could be locked away from their destructive keyboard for a significant period of time?

Realize that these disclosures are not photos of a former partner simply looking fat in a bathing suit. These are photos of someone naked, with exposed genitalia or engaged in sex acts. You can ask why anyone would allow themselves to be filmed that way, but some victims are totally unaware that there was a camera in the room. And that question is really beside the point.

The reality is that this type of material haunts the exposed person every single day. When they apply for a loan or a job or a new apartment, they can reasonably expect to have their name run through a Google search, and — presto! — the unauthorized pornography pops up. Really vindictive types send the porn to a victim’s family, their co-workers and neighbors.

According to a Data and Society Research Institute study, some 10 million Americans, mostly women, have either been threatened with or become victims of revenge porn. It has happened to unsuspecting teenagers, female members of our military, countless celebrities and otherwise anonymous citizens. The humiliation is excruciating.

Former Congresswoman Hill has vowed to return to her home state of California and become active in a renewed campaign against revenge porn. Some of the biggest legal victories against this scourge have occurred in that state.

Last April, a former law student won a $6.45 million U.S. District Court judgment against an ex-boyfriend who posted her intimate photos and videos after they broke up. He also posed as her on erotic dating sites, resulting in a rash of unwanted texts from strange men. In 2015, the operator of a notorious porn site and a hacker he hired to illegally search for salacious photos pleaded guilty to federal criminal charges in California. Both the operator and the hacker were sentenced to more than two years in prison.

I hope Hill is serious about her intentions to do something about the tactic used to bring her down. I’d suggest she urge California lawmakers to make facilitating or posting revenge porn an automatic felony. That would be a good place to start.

To find out more about Diane Dimond, visit her website at www.dianedimond.com.

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