ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — The Ramsey County Attorney’s office has until Wednesday morning to decide whether or not to charge a St. Paul city council candidate with what’s known as “revenge porn.”

David Martinez was arrested early Monday for felony non-consensual dissemination of private sexual images. A topless photo, believed to be his wife, was posted on a blog on his campaign website this weekend.

A spokesperson at the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office said it asked the police department to continue investigating the case and gather more information.

Martinez’s campaign website is no longer accessible. But for much of the weekend it was, giving anybody the chance to view a picture of a topless woman believed to be his wife. It was enough for police to arrest him for what’s widely known as the “Revenge Porn” law.

“I think people would be surprised to learn just how broad and expansive the definition of what is criminal under this statute is,” said attorney Adam Johnson, co-owner and partner at Lundgren & Johnson, PSC in St. Paul.

Johnson and his firm now specialize in defending revenge porn cases. He said although the statute begins as a misdemeanor, it’s easily enhanced to a felony.

“If there is an intent to harass, that’s enhanced to a felony. If it’s an image that is broadcast or published on any website at all, that’s a felony,” he said.

Identifying the person in the picture also plays into the law. The woman’s face was seen in the picture on Martinez’s website, but Johnson said face recognition isn’t necessary.

“You could have a photograph of an intimate part (of a body), not even with a person’s face or other identifying characteristics, and so long as the person depicted in that image can identify themselves that’s enough for the identification element of the statute,” he said. “It includes a nipple, however slightly exposed, or the pubic area. It doesn’t reference any specificity that it be an unclothed pubic area, just a pubic area in general.”

Johnson said the law recognizes that people in relationships might share sexual photos with each other.

But sharing them on the internet, or even with just one other person, could be criminal.

“People should be mindful both when they’re in a relationship, certainly when they’re out of one of just how broadly this statute reaches and can reach,” he said.

Mayor Melvin Carter, as well as the other Ward 4 candidates running against Martinez, have asked him to drop out of the race. He remains on the ballot as of Monday night. Police said they trying to find out if more sexual images related to this case are on the Internet.

Jeff Wagner

Comments (9)
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