A 26-year-old man from Bath has become the first person in Maine to be charged under the state’s new “revenge porn” law for two incidents alleging the theft or dissemination of private nude photos.

In one incident, John Dunne Jr. of Bath was charged with aggravated criminal invasion of computer privacy, a Class C felony, as well as theft by unauthorized taking or transfer, a Class E misdemeanor, after he picked up a woman’s cellphone in a restaurant and stole a picture from it, according to Bath police Lt. Robert Savary.

In a second instance, Dunne was charged with unauthorized dissemination of a private image, a Class D misdemeanor, for sending out a nude photo that was sent to him.

Dunne is being held in lieu of $500 cash bail at the Two Bridges Regional Jail in Wiscasset.

The two complaints were made to police in January, and after a lengthy investigation, Dunne was arrested Friday, Savary said.

Bath police said they have no reason to believe Dunne distributed or stole photos other than those for which he is currently charged.

Although the two incidents resulted in an arrest, Savary said the Bath department has received multiple complaints against other people that have been more difficult to track down.

“It seems we’ve been inundated with these types of cases,” Savary said. “Once you send these images to people you trust at the time, they can go from one source and be forwarded to another and another. It’s very difficult for law enforcement to get to the bottom of where these images came from” once they are posted online, he said.

Police asked parents to educate their teenagers about the danger of sending revealing photos to other people. In most cases, once an image makes it onto the Internet, it is very difficult to have it removed, police said.

Maine’s revenge porn law was passed in April last year, and makes it a crime punishable by up to one year in jail and a $2,000 fine to disseminate sexually explicit photos of someone without their consent.

States across the country are adopting such laws in response to a rash of cases in which jilted exes or hackers post private photos for the world to see. According to the advocacy site End Revenge Porn run by the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative, 26 states have revenge porn laws on the books.

Perhaps the most notorious instance of revenge porn and the one that coined the term involved the website IsAnyoneUp.com, a repository for stolen or passed-around nude photos of countless women. The site is now defunct.

That website’s creator, Hunter Moore, was sentenced to 2½ years in federal prison in December in relation to the website, but not for the actual posting of the photos. Moore pleaded guilty to one count of unauthorized access to a protected computer to obtain information for purposes of private financial gain and one count of aggravated identity theft, for a scheme in which he paid a second man to hack email accounts and steal the nude pictures, which Moore purchased and posted to his website. Moore’s site was shut down for good in 2012, but he became a hated public figure held up by critics to show the harm – and callousness – that accompanies revenge porn cases.

Although specific cases of alleged revenge porn are hard to track and prosecute, one such case in Maine generated serious concern last year when a series of Facebook pages called the “Purge of Maine” featuring nude or revealing photos of unsuspecting women and girls were posted in rapid succession.

Whoever was responsible for the “purge” pages recreated the sites as quickly as Facebook administrators could take them down.

In a brief exchange with a reporter via Facebook, someone with administrator access to a “purge” page seemed to defend the postings, saying the young women in the pictures willingly took the images and sought the attention.

No one has been arrested in connection with the “purge” pages.

State and local police investigated that case, but no arrests have yet been made.


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