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Revenge Porn

By: Carolyn Woodruff, JD, CPA, CVA, and North Carolina Family Law Specialist

So, you have these sexual images of your ex in North Carolina that you think will embarrass him, but you should think twice before posting them on Facebook or publishing them anywhere else. Publication of naked pictures or other private images of a person without consent not only can subject you to serious civil action but also is a criminal act. NCGS Section 14-190.5A. You cannot transfer, publish, distribute, or reproduce sexual images of your ex. Further, you cannot use these images in any manner.

A recent case in Cumberland County, North Carolina, illustrates the strength of the new prohibition on the use of revenge porn. Elizabeth Ann Clark sued Adam Clark (her ex-husband) and Kimberly Rae Barrett (Adam’s girlfriend) for publishing nude photos of Elizabeth. Adam, a major in the Army, traveled, and Elizabeth sent him the images while he was traveling for his marital enjoyment. Elizabeth alleged they had a healthy marriage.

Adam wanted to pay less child support, so as leverage to pay less child support, he used the pictures to embarrass Elizabeth. Adam and Kimberly (who Adam admitted he was having an affair with) posted an ad on Craigslist, giving Elizabeth’s name and address and asking people to contact her for sex. They also called her names such as “whore.”
The jury awarded $3,210,000 to the plaintiff Elizabeth Ann Clark. I understand the case is on appeal.

In the North Carolina statute, the civil action considers disclosure of the naked images for all the following types of revelation: transfer, publish, distribute, or reproduce. The section on Civil Actions uses the words “discloses or uses.” The plaintiff can receive (i) actual damages, but not less than liquidated damages at the rate of $1000 per day for each day of the violation or $10,000, whichever is higher; (ii) punitive damages; (iii) reasonable attorney’s fee and other litigation costs.

The North Carolina statute has a short statute of limitations of one year after the initial discovery of the disclosure, and a statute of repose of seven years from the most recent disclosure of the private image.