Society
Society

'Revenge Porn' Website Operator Sentenced To 18 Years In Prison

| by Kathryn Schroeder

A San Diego, California, man has been sentenced to 18 years in prison for operating a “revenge porn” website and charging the individuals in the posted nude photos money to have them removed.

Kevin Bollaert, 28, allowed more than 10,000 sexually explicit photos to be posted on his so-called revenge porn website, reports The Daily Mail. The majority were of women.

The website was called ugotposted.com and allowed users to anonymously post nude photos of people without their consent, along with personal information about them and a link to their social media profiles.

The primary motive behind the site was to publicly shame an individual someone had previously been in a relationship with for whatever malicious reason.

To have a photo removed, Bollaert would demand between $250 and $350 from the individual through another website he owned, changemyreputation.com.

Prosecutors referred to Bollaert as “vindictive” and said he took pleasure out of causing pain to his female victims, using the Internet as his “tool of destruction,” reports NBC News.

Bollaert’s lawyer claimed at the trial that, while his business was gross and offensive, it was not illegal to allow others to post the explicit material.

"It's gross, it's offensive, but it's not illegal," Bollaert’s lawyer, Emily Rose-Weber, said.

Bollaert’s extortion of the people featured on the site earned him about $30,000. He also made around $900 a month in website ad revenue.

There were more than two dozen people as victims in the case. Some of the victims spoke in court over how devastating the website has been to their lives.

"It's just broken me on a level that's not describable," one woman said. "The only thing I have left is shame and anger."

Another victim, who said she was thrown out of her home after her family found nude photos of her online, said it has ruined her life.

“It ruined my life and I'm still going through it,” the female victim testified. “I lost my family. They think that I brought shame on them. My reputation is ruined.”

Mashable reports that Bollaert showed remorse for creating the site in an interview with agents from the California Department of Justice’s eCrime Unit.

“Yeah, I realize like this is not a good situation," Bollaert said. "I feel bad about the whole thing and like I just don't want to do it anymore. I mean I know a lot of people are getting screwed over like on the site. Like their lives are getting ruined."

Bollaert’s parents released a statement to the court reiterating their son’s remorse.

"He has said many times he wishes he never made the website," they said. "If he could go back and change it all, he would."

Bollaert was found guilty of identity theft and extortion, and will serve 18 years in prison. He was sentenced close to the maximum allowed 20 years. The judge presiding over the case said he stacked the sentencing based on the multiple victims. If Bollaert shows good behavior, he may be eligible for parole after 10 years.

Bollaert is also required to pay $10,000 in restitution to his victims.

Bollaert reportedly broke down in tears during sentencing.

This is the first case of its kind to try an individual for running a revenge porn website in the United States.

Sources: The Daily Mail, Mashable, NBC News San Diego / Photo Source: The Daily Mail