A Vermont Republican candidate for a Chittenden County State Legislature seat is facing criminal charges for revenge porn, vtdigger.com reports.
Revenge porn is the act of distributing explicit photos or videos of another person — often a former or current intimate partner — without their consent.
According to WCAX, the accuser, who is candidate Pat Liebrecht’s ex-girlfriend, came forward in July to police alleging that Liebrecht had posted sexually explicit photos of her online without her consent.
The two reportedly dated on and off since 2008. The accuser told investigators that she had allowed Liebrecht to take the photos of her, but never gave him permission to share them.
She added that once they broke up over the summer, he posted the photos on the Facebook pages of her family and friends.
The victim alleges that Liebrecht threatened her, saying, “I will make plenty of trouble for you. You used me one too many times.”
The Vermont Senate passed its revenge porn bill in 2015. The law criminalizes the act of disseminating sexually explicit images without the person’s consent, and can result in prison time, as well as a monetary fine.
The Associated Press wrote at the time that “Sharing such images with the intent of causing damage would be punishable by two years in prison and a $2,000 fine.”
When he was interviewed by police, Liebrecht reportedly admitted to posting the photos, saying he did it out of anger. He then claimed his ex-girlfriend owed him money and said, “She’s seeing a Mexican.”
However, he claims that he did nothing wrong, pleading not guilty to his accuser’s allegations. He said, “There’s no basis to it.” The Vermont GOP is taking Liebrecht’s ex-girlfriend’s claims seriously, though.
On Wednesday, Vermont Republican Party Executive Director Jeff Bartley said in a statement, “There is no room in the Vermont Republican Party for anyone who engages in this type of conduct. Furthermore, it’s unacceptable for any person to use their candidacy or support of a political party as a means to intimidate, bully, threaten or harass anyone.”
Liebrecht’s played the victim in response, stating that Bartley’s statement “threw me right under the bus.” He added, “I was just executed without even having one word.”
However, revenge porn is a sexually abusive act, one in which an abuser seeks to manipulate or control another person through the dissemination of intimate photos without consent.
Sharing sexual photos of another person on the internet or with friends without that person’s explicit knowledge or approval is never OK, and is a violation of privacy and bodily autonomy.
At this time, Liebrecht is continuing his campaign for the House seat.