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Thursday, Apr 27, 2017
Crime & Courts

Revenge porn, soon a state crime, gets man federal time

— Citing a “very troubling, hard edge to this behavior,” a federal judge has sentenced a New Hampshire man to 2 1/2 years in prison for posting sexually explicit photos of his ex-girlfriend, a Pinellas County medical worker, and directing her co-workers to the images.

Jason Michael Green, 35, of Charlestown, New Hampshire, pleaded guilty in February to a federal charge of identity theft. His sentencing comes as Gov. Rick Scott contemplates signing a bill passed in the recent legislative session that would outlaw “revenge porn” in Florida.

Revenge porn involves publishing a nude or semi-nude image or video without the consent of the subject, typically to humiliate and hurt targets. Most victims are women.

Green was arrested in October on a criminal complaint alleging stalking. He and the victim had a nine-month relationship in Washington state that ended in April 2014, and the victim moved to Pinellas County the following month. She acknowledged allowing Green to photograph her in various states of nudity during the relationship.

The Tribune is not disclosing the victim’s name or place of employment because of the nature of the crime. She was in federal court in Tampa on Wednesday, but declined to address the court or speak to a reporter.

During August and September of last year, according to court documents, Green threatened to send sexually explicit photos and videos to the victim’s family, friends and employers to coerce her into communicating and continuing the relationship.

Green opened a phony Facebook account in the victim’s name, and several of the victim’s co-workers said they received friend requests from her on the social media site.

The Facebook page linked visitors to another web page in the victim’s name that contained nude photos of her. U.S. District Court Judge Steven Merryday told Green his action was “serious, and here, it has been injurious. It is unwarranted and unjustified ... There is a very troubling, hard edge to this behavior.”

Merryday heard an emotional apology from Green, in which he said he “did the unthinkable, violating the trust and privacy of someone I once deeply cared for.” He said he suffers from “haunting guilt that I will carry for the rest of my life.”

But the judge also heard Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Palermo describe what he called “terrifying” transcripts of jailhouse phone calls between Green and his parents. In those calls, one parent threatened Green’s ex-wife, and in another, an assistant U.S. attorney is threatened and referred to by an obscenity.

Just days ago, Palermo said, the Greens discussed repeating the revenge-porn scheme with the next medical center at which the victim is scheduled to practice.

In addition to the prison term, Green was sentenced to three years of supervised release. He was ordered to participate in a mental health program, to have no contact with the victim, and is prohibited from using an internet-enabled computer without written approval of a probation officer.

In the Florida legislative session that ended early last week, lawmakers passed and sent to Scott a bill that makes revenge porn a first degree state misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine. Subsequent violations would be a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison.

The state Senate had sought a stricter law addressing all electronic distributions of revenge porn, including email, but was forced to accept a weaker House version when the lower chamber shut down three days early in a political maneuver.

The House version only addresses posts to websites.

A spokeswoman in the governor’s office said Scott will review the legislation when he receives it.

jstockfisch@tampatrib.com

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