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From Revenge Porn To Trolls, Victims’ Rights Lawyer Talks ‘Modern Ways’ People Destroy Lives
Victims’ rights lawyer Carrie Goldberg started her own practice in 2014 after she says an ex-boyfriend targeted her.
Clad in a white suit and sitting in a conference room in her law office in Brooklyn, Carrie Goldberg recounts the trials—legal proceedings for clients and personal hurdles alike—that led her to where she is today.
“I couldn’t find lawyers who could help me, who knew about sort of the intersection between criminal law, domestic violence, internet, even first amendment...,” Goldberg told Oxygen.com, recalling how she had been targeted by an ex-boyfriend who she says threatened to post naked pictures and videos of her that he had. In her book, she details more alleged abuse, including hundreds of threatening messages and her ex filing a false police report saying she assaulted him.
So Goldberg later resolved to become the lawyer that she needed.
Mary Anne Franks, a law professor at University of Miami School of Law and president of the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative told Oxygen.com that she’s “incredibly grateful” to have people like Carrie working in the field. Goldberg is part of the advisory board of the CCRI.
“But it also makes me angry and sad that anyone should have to take on that kind of global role that she’s taken on to accomplish what she’s hoping to accomplish,” Franks said. “Which is getting justice for these victims.”
Since the start of her firm, Goldberg has represented clients including a teen named Vanessa who alleged a classmate sexually assaulted her. Goldberg filed a civil lawsuit and Title IX complaint on her behalf. She also represented clients like Lucia Evans who pressed charges against disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein.
The district attorney’s office later dropped the sexual assault charge. In response, Goldberg wrote on her website, “The prosecutor’s decision to abandon my client, Lucia Evans, does not invalidate the truth of her claims. It does speak to a system that needs to be reformed.”
In addition, she’s represented Matthew Herrick, who alleged his ex was impersonating him on the dating app Grindr and sending men to his home and job for sex.
According to court records obtained by Oxygen.com, Herrick’s ex-boyfriend, Oscar Gutierrez, pled guilty to first-degree criminal contempt, second-degree identity theft, along with falsely reporting an incident and stalking in the third-degree.
“We ended up suing Grindr and they used a federal law saying that they didn’t have the responsibility to help somebody,” Goldberg said. “It's called Communications Decency Act section 230.”
Franks told Oxygen.com that internet companies essentially "have no legal obligation to do anything outside of very rare cases.”
Goldberg filed Herrick’s case with the Supreme Court, but the court decided not to review it.
In a series of tweets posted this past November, Herrick said he delivered an impact statement in court to his ex-boyfriend. He added “I may have lost my battle in the civil courts but I have continued to wage the war. Much more to come. Never stay silent.”
Goldberg refers to her clients as “warriors."
“When I’m dealing with a client they’re in the middle of a fight,” Goldberg said. “They haven’t survived it yet. They probably survived something horrible, but they haven't survived the fight, which is it’s own traumatic experience and so I really consider them you know fighters, warriors.”
She describes some cases her firm takes on as “the more modern ways people destroy another person’s life.”
“The imaginative ways that offenders offend, thanks to the internet, knows no bounds,” Goldberg said.
She created a taxonomy to classify offenders based on their behaviors. The titles grace the cover of her book “Nobody’s Victim: Fighting Psychos, Stalkers, Pervs, and Trolls.”
She describes “psychos” as the extreme offenders who give up everything in their life to destroy their targets. “Stalkers” acts as the placeholder on the book cover for the category more bluntly titled: "assholes.”
“Somebody who has aggressed you know in the heat of passion or you know maliciously, but is more controlled,” Goldberg said.
She adds “trolls” are people who act anonymously on the internet and “pervs” often use power or control to sexually violate another person.
At a book event for “Nobody’s Victim,” Goldberg said her message is that anyone is a moment away from "crossing paths with someone that's hellbent on our destruction.”
One of Goldberg’s latest clients is former congresswoman Katie Hill.
While facing different allegations with staffers, private messages and intimate photos of Hill surfaced online. She has repeatedly denied having an affair with a congressional staffer. In a farewell address on the house floor, Hill said the distributed images were taken without her knowledge or consent.
Although it’s commonly referred to as “revenge porn,” Franks says many advocates tend to call the distribution of intimate images “nonconsensual pornography” as it can be a more accurate description.
“Other people call it image based sexual abuse, but the essence of it is it’s the unauthorized distribution of someone’s private, sexually explicit material,” Franks told Oxygen.com. “It is often a form of domestic violence.”
According to a statement posted online, Hill is pursuing all available legal options.
Goldberg says the idea of sexual privacy has swept the nation as public consciousness and laws surrounding “revenge porn” has grown.
“I want to people to be equipped,” Goldberg said. “I want to demystify the, you know, the ways people aggress against each other.”