Is Rob Kardashian Guilty of ‘Revenge Porn’ with Blac Chyna Fallout?

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This week, Rob Kardashian blasted Blac Chyna on social media, who is his model ex-fiancee. She also is the mother of his child and is frequently the target of verbal abuse by his reality TV star family.

In several posts on Twitter and Instagram, Kardashian blasted Chyna for drug use, infidelity, and for allegedly exploiting him financially. He also ripped her by  calling her a cheater, fraud and crazy. Next, he posted a video of Chyna making out with another man, which he claimed Chyna sent him on July 4.

Then things took a turn for the worse, in a way that some legal experts argue could be criminal. He then posted pictures on Instagram and Twitter of a naked Chyna. He sent those pictures out to his 10 million followers, apparently without Chyna’s permission.

There is no question that sending out nude pictures in that fashion is cruel. But in the state of California, where the ex-couple resides, it is a crime.

Since 2014, the penal code in California has had a definition for what it terms ‘revenge porn,’ or ‘nonconsensual pornography.’ This is defined under California law as the intentional distribution of intimate photos or videos of another person that were originally intended to be private. When shared, those images may cause serious emotional distress, the statute states.

In California, ‘revenge porn’ is a crime with a penalty of up to six months in jail and a fine of $1000.

Before revenge porn was a crime, judges often had to tell victims that there was no legal redress for the action because they had consented to the original image being sent. But, as some legal activists argue, consenting to images of their naked body being seen by a sexual partner is not the same as giving permission for millions to see it online.

This issue did not gain much traction with legislators until 2014. At that time, hundreds of naked celebrity pictures were leaked onto 4chan and then spread to other social media sites.

As of 2017, ⅔ of the states in the US now have revenge porn laws. In some states, it is a misdemeanor, but in others such as Illinois, it is a felony.

Legal experts estimate that 4% of US Internet users, or 10 million Americans, have been threatened with revenge porn, according to a report from the Data and Society Research Institute.

‘Revenge Porn’ Seeks Control and Dominance

According to celebrity attorney Lisa Bloom, revenge porn is disgusting because it is an immoral assertion of control and dominance, most often of a man over a woman. She noted that the typical motivation in a revenge porn case is to humiliate an ex-partner. And it is normally done in the way that society tends to humiliate women, by making fun of their bodies.

Bloom believes that California’s revenge porn law will apply in the Kardashian case. She told the Washington Post that even if Chyna sent him nude images, if she did not want them to be revealed publicly, the law protects her.

Bloom argues that the invective that Kardashian showed when he posted the illicit images made it clear that his intent was to humiliate his ex-lover. That would qualify as a crime under the California revenge porn law, she stated.

In the inflammatory posts, Kardashian accused Chyna of sleeping with another man in their bed where their child was conceived. Their child, Dream, was born in 2016.

The couple have been on and off again for the last two years, and they had an E! Reality TV show about their relationship, but they split up a month after the show started.

Chyna was a stripper and she has always been upfront and unapologetic about her sexuality. Kardashian is a sock designer, but he is best known as the sibling of his famous sisters, Kim, Khloe and Kourtney.

Some Legal Minds Think It Isn’t Revenge Porn

On one level, the Kardashian case sounds like an open and shut case of revenge porn, but it may not be that simple. Some legal experts this week noted that Chyna actually ‘liked’ the images that were posted on Instagram, so it is difficult for her to argue that she was undergoing emotional distress.

Also, the California law states that for the person to be convicted, there needs to have been an understanding between the parties that the pictures would stay private. ‘Liking’ the posted pictures does not seem to be consistent with wanting the pictures to be kept private.

Revenge Porn Is a Crime in 38 States

Revenge porn is a relatively new legal term. Engaging in revenge porn currently is a crime in 38 states, although there is no federal law against it at this time.

Revenge porn laws are important because victims of this act are not really protected by existing laws against stalking, harassment and voyeurism. Stalking and cyber bullying or harassment laws only apply if the victim can show that the release of nonconsensual images was part of of pattern of behavior that was directed at the victim. Under current federal law, a series of actions has to be proven before it can be called a crime. These current laws do not apply to those who only disclose illicit images one time. Kardashian has not engaged in repeated behavior with posting the images, so these laws would not apply in this case.

Voyeurism laws have generally not been updated to reflect modern Internet technology, so they may not apply to images that were obtained with hidden cameras. Anti-voyeurism laws that have been updated usually only apply to victims where the images were originally gotten without consent.

There are efforts underway to make revenge porn a federal crime. There is a federal bill in congress that has been introduced as of June 2016 called the Intimate Privacy Protection Act. Many legal experts think that there should be a federal law against revenge porn, given the great social harm that it can cause.

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