Texas woman awarded $1.2 billion in ‘revenge porn’ lawsuit

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A victim of so-called “revenge porn” in Texas has been awarded $1.2 billion after her ex-boyfriend allegedly shared what court documents call “visually intimate material” of her online and in emails to her family, friends and colleagues after they broke up.

The woman’s ex, Marques Jamal Jackson, allegedly put the images on multiple social media sites, in a publicly accessible Dropbox folder, and on an impersonation page of a porn website. He also told her she would “spend the rest of your life trying and failing to wipe yourself off the internet,” the woman’s lawyers alleged.

After 30 minutes of deliberation on Aug. 9, a jury in Harris County District Court unanimously voted to award the woman the funds. A judge will issue the final judgement, which the woman’s lawyers say will come any day and uphold the jury’s recommendation.

Jackson will now have to pay the woman $1 billion in punitive damages and $200 million in actual damages, referring to mental aguish she has suffered in the past and future, according to court documents.

Jacob Schiffer, one of the woman’s lawyers, told NBC News the case “was a deterrence case, not a money case,” adding that the lawyers learned early on that the defendant did not have any assets.

“While a judgment in this case is unlikely to be recovered, the compensatory verdict gives D.L. back her good name,” the woman’s lead lawyer, Bradford J. Gilde, said in a statement, using the woman’s initials.

Jackson could not immediately be reached by phone or email on Wednesday afternoon. He was unrepresented in court, according to the woman’s lawyer.

Texas is one of 48 states — plus D.C., Puerto Rico and Guam — that have laws against nonconsensual pornography, according to the advocacy organization Cyber Civil Rights Initiative. Texas’s law, known as the Relationship Privacy Act, took effect in 2015, forbids the “unlawful disclosure or promotion of intimate visual material” and imposes both civil and criminal penalties.

One in eight Americans who use social media have been targeted by nonconsensual pornography, women were about 1.7 times as likely to be the targets compared to men, according to research conducted by the organization.

Advocates prefer the term “nonconsensual pornography” or “image-based sex porn” to the more commonly used “revenge porn,” arguing that the latter term implicitly blames the victim and can obscure a variety of motives.

‘Delusional and paranoid’

Jackson and the woman got into a relationship around 2016 and spent a few years living in Chicago before having “a long and drawn out break up” at the beginning of 2020, according to the original complaint, filed in April 2022. The pair then officially ended their relationship in October 2021.

At that point, the woman’s lawyers allege, Jackson became “delusional and paranoid” and believed that she had started a relationship with a mutual friend. That’s when, they allege, he began wrongfully sharing intimate images she had previously given to him.

The complaint alleges Jackson shared the images after the woman told him he should keep them to himself and, after they broke up, that he should destroy them.

Schiffer and Brad Ertl, another attorney representing the woman, said the images she shared with Jackson consensually were not the majority of images involved in the case, and that he also allegedly shared recordings of them during sex that she was unaware he had recorded.

Jackson also allegedly hacked the woman’s work Zoom account, told a loan officer she submitted a fraudulent application, stole money from her bank account to pay his rent, harassed her from fake phone numbers and spied on her in her mother’s home using her security system, the complaint states.

According to the document, around March 2022, Jackson allegedly told the woman: “You will spend the rest of your life trying and failing to wipe yourself off the internet. Everyone you ever meet will hear the story and go looking…Happy Hunting”

The irony now, Schiffer said, is that when “you Google that man’s name, what comes up is a $1.2 billion judgment.”

Ertl added that despite Jackson’s lack of assets, the judgment can remain attached to his future assets.

“Until he pays this off in full, he will forever have this lingering over him,” he said.

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