Revenge Porn, Nest Security Cameras, Adultery, and Divorce

Though divorce attorneys are no strangers to pretty salacious details coming out in lots of our cases (sorry, though, it’s all confidential!), every so often there’s a detail or a case that surprises even us. There’s a pretty shocking case pending before the Supreme Court right now that originated out of the Virginia Beach Circuit Court.

 

It’s a divorce case, and custody as also at issue. At a deposition of the husband’s girlfriend, a local attorney presented pictures of her – naked – to her. He asked her whether it was her, and his objective, he says, was proving to the Guardian ad litem that she wasn’t fit to be around the children. The pictures had not been disclosed prior to the deposition, and the girlfriend sued.

 

She used a law, created in 2014, that makes it illegal to disseminate “nude or semi-nude” content designed to “coerce, harass, or intimidate”. At the circuit court, the girlfriend won, and the case is currently pending on appeal.

 

There’s a lot here that’s really interesting, I think. And, no, I don’t mean any of the procedural stuff or the particular legal arguments – at least, that’s not why I write today. That may be interesting for me (though I hope not for the sake of using these points in any of my upcoming cases!), but not so much for you.

What I think is MOST interesting is that the screenshots in question – the pictures used – came from the girlfriend’s own Nest camera, which she initially installed for security reasons.

 

Which brings me to my key takeaway number 1.

A Nest security system – or any camera system that is installed in your home and especially in your bedroom – is inherently risky.

As a doorbell camera, sure, whatever. Knock yourself out. But cameras in the house? Especially internet based cameras? Well, they can be hacked. I’m not saying that your husband will hack it during your divorce and find you in bed with someone else, but any time someone can be voyeuristic in this way, its alarming to me.

Maybe there are more secure options out there; I’m not a video surveillance camera sales-guy. Look into it, if you must – but be aware that these less expensive options come with some inherent problems, like this girlfriend found to her detriment.

In this case, wife maintains that she updated her device, and the Nest system updated itself to her phone. In the article I read, there was no question about the truth of this claim, so I think it’s fairly clear they’ve established that this is true. It concerns me that it would upload so easily onto another device, even if she and her then-husband shared a network connection at the time. That suggests to me – again, a video surveillance layperson, not an expert – that there are some serious security issues inherent with these devices, and that you should tread carefully if you have one or are considering installing one.

 

If you have nude photos – or other compromising evidence – related to an affair of your own or your husband’s, be very careful – and talk to your attorney about them before using them in any capacity.

 

It’s not uncommon, in my practice, to come across nude pictures in adultery cases. But, if this case isn’t over turned on appeal, it sets a sort of scary precedent that the law in question could be used against someone in a civil case. This case was the first of its kind, but it makes using this kind of evidence risky.

I know, I know. I’ve talked about adultery a lot, and I’ve always said you need clear and convincing evidence, right? We need to PROVE adultery has occurred, right? We need someone to testify – someone like the girlfriend, or a PI – who can show that the act of adultery (sexual intercourse, I mean) actually happened. A video striptease is good evidence, right?

Well, you’d think so. And what else could this woman have used? Are we supposed to ignore perfectly good evidence, properly introduced, in order to avoid this kind of potential liability? It’s hard to say. Still, you should be aware of this law – and its application here – and should tread carefully if you happen to have nude pictures of him or his girlfriend that you’ve uncovered during your investigation.

In this case, serious sanctions were awarded – to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars. It may be reversed on appeal, but, still. It’s always a good idea to ask yourself – and your attorney, who likely will have heard of this case – how far you’re willing to go.

 

It’s also probably a good idea to NOT take naked pictures or allow them to be taken.

I’ve made this point before. At the risk of sounding like a prude, I do have to caution you – if you have any control over it, don’t let yourself fall into this category. In this case, the girlfriend had no idea she was being filmed or watched. It was her own camera, and she gave her boyfriend (the then-husband) access. Wife didn’t seek it out; it just popped up during an update. But, still – she got nude pictures of her husband’s girlfriend, provided them to her attorney, and used them. I tend to think it was a fair usage, but it’s really irrelevant. To girlfriend, it was all out there for everyone to see, and I cannot imagine how embarrassing and awkward and uncomfortable that would have been.

I’m not here to defend anyone’s conduct. What happened, happened, and I had nothing to do with it. All I’m saying is that if you take naked pictures, or allow them to be taken, there are naked pictures out there that could show up at the most inconvenient and embarrassing time.

It’s a crazy, crazy case, with really insane facts. And, really, the ruling is shocking to me. But, still, it’s something to be aware of. These security cameras are not that secure, using nude pictures can get you in a ton of trouble in divorce or custody litigation, and if someone has nude pictures of yours to use, you’re vulnerable to this kind of attack. If you’re concerned about any of these issues, give your attorney a call, set up an appointment, and come up with a plan.

And, for goodness sake, uninstall your Nest!

For more information, or to schedule a consultation, give our office a call at 757-785-9761.

Share this: