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California man faces 20 years in prison after ‘revenge porn’ conviction

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A San Diego man who prosecutors say ran a “revenge porn” website featuring nude pictures of women often posted by jilted ex-lovers was convicted on Monday of identity theft and extortion charges, prosecutors said.

Kevin Boellart, 28, was found guilty on 27 felony counts by a San Diego County Superior jury after 2-1/2 days of deliberation, according to the California Attorney General’s Office, which prosecuted the case.

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Jurors were unable to reach verdicts on one count each of identity theft and conspiracy.

Boellart was arrested in 2013, shortly after Governor Jerry Brown signed a first-in-the-nation law targeting so-called revenge porn websites. Prosecutors said he was the first defendant prosecuted under the law.

Last week, the Federal Trade Commission banned a revenge porn site operator from the web in the first federal civil enforcement action against a similar site.

Prosecutors said Boellart, using the handle Vindictive2786, ran a website called YouGotPosted.com, which allowed spurned lovers to post explicit pictures of women.

The site required posters to provide links to Facebook pages, the victims’ names, addresses, phone numbers and social media.

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When the women tried to have their pictures removed, Boellart and a partner would demand more photos and private information, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors have said Boellart’s site, which is no longer operational, had featured over 10,000 sexually explicit photos, and that he charged women up to $350 each to remove them. In opening arguments, Deputy Attorney General Tawnya Austin said the site amounted to “21st century blackmail.”

According to a criminal complaint filed by prosecutors, Boellart netted more than $10,000 between December 2012 and September 2013 from women whose pictures had been posted and were removed.

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Many whose images ended up on the YouGotPosted.com site eventually paid another website linked to the revenge porn site to have the pictures removed, not realizing it was operated by the same people, Austin said.

Boellart’s lawyer argued at trial that Boellart was running a legitimate business.

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“The question is whether what is distasteful and immoral is illegal,” Emily Rose Weber told the jury during trial.

Boellart, who was taken into custody after the verdict, faces a maximum of 20 years in prison when he is sentenced on April 3.

(Reporting by Marty Graham; Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Peter Cooney)

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US COVID death toll projected to hit almost 300,000 by December

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An influential novel coronavirus pandemic model now projects that deaths from the disease in the United States could hit almost 300,000 by the start of December.

NPR reports that researchers at the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation say that the United States is headed toward a grim fall in which COVID-19 deaths will nearly double from their current level of 160,000 in the next four months.

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This state was always key to Democrats’ 2020 ambitions: Less than 3 months from Election Day, their confidence is growing

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Over a year ago, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee opened an office in Austin, convinced that Texas would be central to building on the party's House majority in 2020.

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Of more than 100 Texas prison units, the Roach Unit's apparent ability to avoid the virus has been attributed to a remote location and a warden who strictly enforces precautionary measures.

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