More victims coming out against Texxxas revenge-porn site
When Beaumont attorney John Morgan first heard from Hollie Toups, he had a deeply emotional reaction. “After I interviewed her, I felt like a dad and this was my daughter. … I felt protective,” he told me. “Then I got very, very angry – those people were trying to ruin this young gal’s life.”
By “those people,” Morgan means the unnamed revenge-porn purveyors at Texxxan.com. Toups, 32, is among the untold number of women (and a lesser number of men) who have had their nude photos splashed up on the site, often accompanied by their names and Facebook profiles, for viewers to gawk at.
Morgan is suing Texxxan.com, its yet-to-be-identified administrators, website hosting company GoDaddy.com, and “all subscribing members” to the site. Toups and 16 other women named in the lawsuit claim scorned, vindictive exes took their nude photos and posted them to Texxxan.com, Morgan says. “This site is designed to humiliate them,” he said. “Many of the women feel threatened, afraid, they feel stalked as well as dehumanized.” In some of the images posted the women didn’t even know they were being photographed, Morgan says. “Like, even the innocent act of taking a shower. Snap, that ends up on a website.”
In the week since he filed, claiming invasion of privacy and mental anguish, Morgan’s class-action suit has taken on 13 more women who say their nude photos were posted to the site. He says the women come from Louisiana all the way to Houston and Austin. Morgan expects the lawsuit will draw dozens more victims in the coming months.
Meanwhile, Texxxan.com’s administrators remain unknown. “The registered agent on the site doesn’t exist,” Morgan says. “The name is fake, the address is fake.” Morgan provided me an email he got from a “James Smith” just after 2 am Friday purporting to be the unnamed defendant. It reads:
Just read about your lawsuit against me. I am guessing that Iam the John Doe defendants you have named (but that you didn’t name). So now what?
Just so you know, before all this nonsense started, I made a mirror image of all the info on the website, to include your clients’ photos and their names & addresses, and I have since reposted and rehosted them elsewhere online for all the world to see and, most importantly, enjoy!
I think that this is a great game and I am certain that those girls deserved it 110%.
So now what?
It’s unclear exactly how a lawsuit like this might shake out. In the past victims have sued over copyright infringement, privacy, and even laws that require pornographers to keep written records to ensure minors are never pictured. But proprietors of revenge porn websites like Texxxan.com currently fall under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which provides that websites aren’t liable for user-submitted content.
Morgan, who says he wants to take down the entire revenge-porn industry, researched the legal actions against infamous internet dirtbag Hunter Moore (subject of this Village Voice profile) before filing his suit. Moore pulled a bait-n-switch last year, feigning remorse for his notorious site Is Anyone Up when he sold it to an anti-bullying group, vowing he had a change of heart. Last month Moore announced the launching of another revenge porn site, HunterMoore.TV. Along with the routine content, Moore has claimed the site will allow contributors to post the addresses of targets next to their lurid photos, displaying the nudes on a map so viewers can pinpoint exactly where victims live.
I emailed the person claiming to be one of those in charge of the Texxxan.com site, and I’ll update this post if with his response if I get one. Morgan has filed for an injunction to have the site shuttered. The admins have already taken down the content, but that may only be temporary. Admins have posted a barely-readable rant in defense of the site, including that “maybe the site provided an outlet for anger that prevented physical violence.” The site has posted a poll asking the public to weigh in on whether they should relaunch Texxxan.com.