FREEZE WARNING IN EFFECT

“Revenge porn” handled differently in Illinois, Iowa

PRAIRIE VIEW, Iowa-- A Fulton man is facing misdemeanor charges after prosecutors say he shared nude photos of his ex-girlfriend online. He's being charged in Iowa, but this crime can be handled differently on either side of the Mississippi River.

According to affidavits, 29-year-old Jeffery W. Ryland II hacked into his ex-girlfriend's online accounts and threatened to share explicit and nude photos of her with friends and family if she didn't get back together with him. He's accused of sending those photos and posting them online when she refused.

Scott County Attorney Mike Walton explained that this crime, commonly called "revenge porn," falls under harassment in Iowa law and qualifies as an aggravated misdemeanor. It can entail jail time and a fine.

"The harassment is just the act of publishing photos depicting nudity or sexual acts," he said. "That is a harassment charge. Just doing that alone is a crime without the person's consent."

However, in Illinois, revenge porn was defined as a felony back in 2014. Someone charged under this law could face up to three years in prison and a $25,000 fine.

In Iowa, Ryland faces extortion charges as well. Walton said that's because Ryland threatened to share the photos of his ex-girlfriend if she didn't get back together with him. That's a felony in Iowa and comes with jail time and a fine.

John McGehee with the Rock Island County State's Attorney Office said each case has to be considered on an individual level and the charges can be different for similar cases.

"There are different statutes in the state of Illinois in how it relates to the facts and how we charge these types of cases," McGehee said.

Both attorneys said the law has been trying to keep up as technology is used in crime.

"People, if they want to hurt somebody, always seem to find a way to do that," Walton said. "And a lot of times the law didn't cover that because it was so new."

Walton has practiced law for over 30 years.

"Technology has advanced in that period of time, and somehow people find ways to use new ways to mess with other people and hurt other people," he said.

In the past five years, Illinois and Iowa have both passed new laws regarding revenge porn to keep up with technology in crime. But McGehee said it takes time to make new laws for new situations.

"I'll be honest with you, the law sometimes is a little slow," he said.