A person who publishes the intimate photographs or videos of another without his or her consent and who uses a telecommunication device to harass the victim (perhaps by threatening that the intimate material will be published) may be charged under 47 U.S.C. § 223(a)(1)(C).
b. Text of the Statute
47 U.S.C. § 223(a)(1)(C):
“(a) Prohibited acts generally
(1) in interstate or foreign communications—
[. . .]
(C) makes a telephone call or utilizes a telecommunications device, whether or not conversation or communication ensues, without disclosing his identity and with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten, or harass any person at the called number or who receives the communications […].”
- United States v. Cope, 24 Fed. Appx. 414 (6th Cir. 2001).
Procedural Posture: Defendant pleaded guilty and nolo contendere on 13 counts of violating 47 U.S.C. § 223(a)(1)(C) and was sentenced to prison. He appealed the vulnerable victim enhancement to his sentence.
Law: 47 U.S.C. § 223(a)(1)(C)
Facts: Defendant harassed his ex-girlfriend, “a nationally recognized high school teacher,” by sending incriminating emails in her name to various people including her church minister and employer. The emails indicated that victim had been having sexual relationships with her students.
Outcome: Affirmed. The court noted that the vulnerable victim enhancements were proper.
- United States v. Fullmer, 584 F.3d 132 (3d Cir. 2009).
Procedural Posture: Defendants in this case appeal among other things, their convictions for conspiracy to commit interstate stalking, stalking, and conspiracy to use a telecommunications device to abuse, threaten and harass.
Law: 18 U.S.C. § 2261A (stalking) and 47 U.S.C. §223(a)(1)(c) (telecommunications abuse/threat/harass); also conspiracy to violate Animal Enterprise Protection Act.
Facts: This case is about animal rights activists engaging in a violent campaign against animal product testing. Of interest, the activist group’s website “not only communicated the victims’ personal information, but the website also disseminated the information that made the victims’ fears reasonable: threats that people associated with Huntingdon [organization that engages in animal testing] would be treated like Brian Cass [who had been assaulted by three masked
persons in front of his home], photos of extreme vandalism, ultimatums, and threats.”
Outcome: Conviction affirmed. Court found that this evidence supported the jury’s conviction of the website administrator for stalking and harassment.