Former SoCal Congresswoman Katie Hill has been dealt another blow in her lawsuit against her ex-husband and two media companies for publishing nude photos of her without her consent. On Wednesday, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Yolanda Orozco ordered Hill to pay British tabloid the Daily Mail $103,625 in attorneys’ fees and $1,120 in costs, the Daily News reports.
This follows Orzoco’s April ruling to dismiss the Mail as a defendant in the case, in which Hill sued the paper along with ex-husband Kenny Heslep and conservative media outlet RedState, arguing that publishing the compromising photos—allegedly provided by Heslep—constituted “revenge porn,” which is illegal in 46 states, including California, plus Washington, D.C. Hill made the decision to resign her District 25 seat in October 2019, after the the photos were published, sparking an ethics probe into sexual impropriety.
At the time, Orzoco declared that Hill’s nude image could be published against her will because they were “a matter of public issue or public interest” which “spoke to [Hill’s] character and qualifications for her position.”
During that hearing, Hill’s lawyer, Carrie A. Goldberg, argued that the fees could bankrupt Hill, to which Orzoco replied that there was “not a lot I can do about it. Some of our laws have harsh results.”
Hill reacted on Twitter Wednesday, writing, “A judge just ordered me to PAY the Daily Mail more than $100k for the privilege of them publishing nude photos of me obtained from an abuser. The justice system is broken for victims.”
Hill is also asking for the public’s help in paying down the punishing fees, as well as for a boycott of the publication.
“Our fight continues,” she writes, “please chip in if you can”
A judge just ordered me to PAY the Daily Mail more than $100k for the privilege of them publishing nude photos of me obtained from an abuser.
The justice system is broken for victims.
— Katie Hill (@KatieHill4CA) June 2, 2021
Orzoco has similarly rewarded two other former defendants in the suit. Last week she ordered Hill to pay just under $84,000 in legal fees to RedState editor Jennifer Van Laar, who asked for $120,340 after being let off on First Amendment grounds in April. Orzoco also granted radio host Joseph Messina nearly $30,000 after Hill sued him for publicizing the photos and for failing to notify authorities when he received them.
In her own tweet Wednesday, Hill’s attorney Goldberg questioned the news value of the Daily Mail’s use of the photos, and compared the laws that punish plaintiffs like Hill to rules that protect social media giants when users publish illegal content.
The Daily Mail relished in repeatedly publishing the SAME nude images. And that's newsworthy? DM relished that they were from Katie's ex and one was taken without knowledge or permission.
The extravagance of Anti-SLAPP overbreadth is rivaled only by 230. https://t.co/AbPI3Uf5eD
— Carrie A. Goldberg (@cagoldberglaw) June 2, 2021
Helslep, who Hill has accused of 15 years of abuse, remains a defendant in the case.
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