Former Congresswoman Katie Hill has recently hired attorney Carrie Goldberg, whose firm is known for working cases involving revenge porn or internet crimes.
Hill, a California representative, resigned from Congress last month after she admitted to having a consensual, but inappropriate, relationship with someone who worked on her campaign, according to NBC News. She also faces allegations of carrying on a relationship with a staffer while in Congress, which Hill denies.
“This is the hardest thing I ever had to do, but I believe it is the best thing for my constituents, my community and our country,” Hill said in a statement about her resignation.
Hill claimed in the letter the leaked private photos were part of “smear campaign built around cyber exploitation" carried out by her “abusive husband” and “hateful political operatives.”
Hill and her husband, Kenny Heslep, are estranged and going through a divorce, BuzzFeed reports.
Heslep’s father told BuzzFeed his son claimed his computer was hacked before the images showed up on the conservative news outlet called Redstate and The Daily Mail, saying his son insists he did not play a role in distributing the pictures.
Hill, however, maintains she is the victim of revenge porn, and expressed she wants to fight to ensure no one else would have to go through a similar experience in a videotaped message.
“Some people call it electronic assault, digital exploitation, others call it revenge porn,” Hill said. “As the victim of it, I call it one of the worst things we can do to our sisters and our daughters.”
To help her in that “fight,” Hill has hired Goldberg, who specializes in these kinds of cases. Goldberg has represented alleged victims of Harvey Weinstein and petitioned the Supreme Court for a client, Matthew Herrick, in a case against the gay dating app Grindr, after strangers started showing up at Herrick’s home and place of work due to fake dating profiles set up by an ex-boyfriend, according to her book “Nobody’s Victim,” although she confirmed the Supreme Court declined to hear the case in an interview with Oxygen.com.
In Hill’s case, they’re pursuing all available legal options, according to her statement.
Goldberg’s firm has also started an investigation to find out who should be prosecuted for the images that were published, the NY Post reports.
Goldberg, who started her firm in 2014, told Oxygen.com they’re particularly known for cases involving online harassment, stalking, revenge porn, or sextortion. She described the cases as “the more modern ways that people destroy another person’s life.”
Goldberg noted any time there is a high-profile case, it can bring momentum to legislation on revenge porn.
"When I first started my firm, no one had even heard of the term revenge porn,” Goldberg said. “There were only three states that had laws. Now we have 46 and the idea of sexual privacy kind of swept the nation.”
Goldberg explained part of the public’s heightened awareness about non-consensual images and privacy concerns stems from celebrity victims. In one of the most high-profile cases, a man was sentenced to eight months in prison for hacking into famous people’s phones and distributing personal images, including photos of actress Jennifer Lawrence.
“You never want a public figure or a celebrity or anybody to become a victim of these types of crimes, but the reality is when they do... it pushes the conversation forward,” Goldberg said.
Goldberg told Oxygen.com former congresswoman Hill’s case could be another point of push for more legislation surrounding non-consensual images.
“I think there’s momentum, you know, a House member [Katie Hill] resigned so recently because she herself was the victim of revenge porn. That really showcases how it can affect everybody and there were national actors all over the country that were involved, and a strong federal revenge porn law will really help that,” she explained, adding although there’s a finite number of people her firm can represent, they support federal revenge porn legislation that could theoretically help millions of people living in the U.S.
Goldberg noted a federal revenge porn law was introduced in the House, but still needs to be introduced to the Senate.
In a farewell address on the House floor, Hill spoke about the intimate photos, saying they were taken and shared without her knowledge or consent.
“I am leaving because of a misogynistic culture that gleefully consumed my naked pictures, capitalized on my sexuality, and enabled my abusive ex to continue that abuse. This time with the entire country watching," Hill said.
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