Two former staffers of a congressional delegate from the Virgin Islands have been charged in connection with circulating nude images of her and her spouse.
Juan McCullum, 35, and Dorene Browne-Louis, 45, are accused in an indictment unsealed Thursday of illegally obtained the images and a video from an iPhone and then distributing them via text and online.
The alleged victim, Rep. Stacey Plaskett, a Democratic non-voting member of US House of Representatives, told BuzzFeed News in a statement Thursday that the privacy invasion was followed by an "organized smear campaign" in press reports.
She added that she is still "saddened by the damage we suffered as a result of those egregious acts," but is grateful authorities have tracked down the culprits.
"I am deeply grateful to the Capitol Police and US Attorney for the District of Columbia for their thorough and in-depth investigating of the crimes committed against me, and those who I love," Plaskett said.
According to a statement from the Department of Justice, McCullum got the nude images in March 2016 after offering to take the delegate's iPhone to an Apple store to get fixed, which is how he allegedly got the password.
Later that July, after McCullum no longer worked for Plaskett, he allegedly used the fake name "Susan Ricenville" to create Facebook and Hotmail accounts to distribute the nude images.
"Further, according to the indictment, he encouraged others on social media to redistribute the images and videos in the member’s congressional district," prosecutors added.
The indictment accuses McMullum of sending the images to politicians, the media, and other people who knew Plaskett.
McCullum, who appeared on the VH1 realty show I Love New York in 2007, also allegedly texted several images to Browne-Louis, who according to prosecutors, deleted the messages and then lied to authorities. The indictment accuses Browne-Louis of making false statements to a federal grand jury that was investigating the case.
In a statement last year, Plaskett described the stolen material as a "private family video" and photographs shared with her husband. She also said she was outraged by the "shockingly disgusting invasion of my family’s and my privacy," and suggested there could have been political motivations for the leaks.
"The fact that the illegal activity had taken place two weeks before an upcoming primary election was not being considered a coincidence," the statement added.
McCullum faces two counts of cyberstalking, while Browne-Louis faces two counts of obstruction of justice and a maximum of 20 years in prison. She pleaded not guilty in court Thursday.
McCullum does not have a court date scheduled, according to the Justice Department. He faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison.
Jim Dalrymple is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.
Contact Jim Dalrymple II at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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