A class-action lawsuit expected to be filed today in Galveston County’s state court seeks to shut down a “revenge porn” website accused of posting nude photographs of women without their permission.
Attorney John S. Morgan of Beaumont also seeks personal information of all the website’s subscribers in an effort to name them as defendants as well.
“Revenge porn is when you take the photograph and private information of women and post it without their permission,” Morgan said. “That’s the reason it’s not First Amendment-protected — because there’s no permission.”
Some photographs were taken in the context of marriage or other relationships, Morgan said.
“Or young kids were doing stupid things in college, drinking too much,” Morgan said. “One was taking a shower at a girls camp out by a lake. A lot of the women didn’t even know they’d been photographed. Most are from significant others or former husbands.”
At least two of the 17 women listed as plaintiffs in the final draft form of the lawsuit are from Galveston County. Others are from as far east as the Lake Charles-area in Louisiana or as far north as Tyler, Morgan said.
The Daily News is withholding names of the defendants until the lawsuit is filed in district court. The website had no photographs posted online Thursday but promised to return.
Some of the photographs of the women were taken when they were juveniles, Morgan said. He forwarded that information to the FBI’s Cyber Crimes unit, he said.
The lawsuit claims the website is designed to cause severe embarrassment, humiliation and emotional distress to all of the plaintiffs.
Those who post photos, contribute or subscribe to the site are aware they don’t have permission from the women to publish the photos or information, the lawsuit claims.
Morgan said he was moved by the story of the lead plaintiff after other attorneys declined to take her case.
“It’s some pretty sick stuff,” Morgan said. “I talked to some other women and thought, ‘Why not — if I could do some good to help these women out and make some positive changes?’”
Morgan said he doesn’t believe this type of case has been tried in Texas, but he fashioned it from others, such as one in California.
Going after the subscribers has financial implications for the website, Morgan said.
“If it works, it could shut down the whole industry,” Morgan said. “No one will join or look at it.”