Sun | Jan 26, 2020

Revenge porn sentencing ‘feels like justice’ - Ex-US broadcaster says vindicated but defence to appeal ‘excessive’ penalty

Published:Saturday | November 23, 2019 | 12:17 AMNickoy Wilson/Gleaner Writer

Former American television news anchor Darieth Chisolm says there is still much to do in the fight against revenge porn, even after her Jamaican ex-boyfriend, who admitted to posting nude pictures and videos of her on the Internet, was yesterday sentenced.

The ex-boyfriend – Donovan Powell – was sentenced to two years in prison and fined $1 million, having pleaded guilty to three counts of malicious communication pursuant to the Cybercrimes Act, which was enacted to address computer-related crimes.

He turned to revenge porn after the woman ended their romantic relationship.

“This has been a very long and exhausting case for me and feels like some justice, but I am also painfully aware that there are a lot of people who unfortunately are still fighting these types of cases. So my work continues with my documentary and social justice project – 50 Shades of Silence – because revenge porn is relatively new and we definitely need stricter laws in place so that we can end this level of online violence,” she said in an interview with The Gleaner, hours after the sentence was handed down.

VICTIM SHAMING

Chisolm, a former NBC news anchor based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, said that one of the challenges to tackling the problem is a culture of victim-shaming.

“This is not an issue of people sharing nudes. This is in an issue of someone taking nude content, videos and using it against someone, and that’s where the focus should be – on the person who is doing this with the intent to do harm, and every time we victim-shame and victim-blame, we point the finger at the victim when they are not responsible. It’s the person who is spreading or putting the information out there with the intent to do harm,” she said.

Powell was sentenced to one year in prison at hard labour for counts one and two and ordered to pay a fine of $1 million or serve four months in prison for the final count.

The sentences for counts one and two are to be served at the same time, meaning Powell will only serve one year.

However, Powell, 53, will not begin to serve the sentences immediately as he has been granted bail pending the outcome of an appeal against the penalty by his attorney, Valerie Neita-Robertson.

Speaking to The Gleaner, the attorney said the sentence is being appealed because it is “excessive”.

Powell’s conviction and subsequent sentence come more than two years after Chisolm complained to Jamaican authorities that Powell created a website where he posted nude pictures of her along with derogatory comments.

Chisolm, in videos posted on YouTube, said the pictures were taken while she slept during the time she lived in Jamaica with Powell.

She also said she was being forced to return to the relationship.

nickoy.wilson@gleanerjm.com