Katie Hill: Former politician ordered to pay Daily Mail more than $100,000 in legal fees in revenge porn case

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<p>Former Rep. Katie Hill has been ordered to pay more than $100,000 to the Daily Mail in attorneys’ fees</p> (Getty)

Former Rep. Katie Hill has been ordered to pay more than $100,000 to the Daily Mail in attorneys’ fees


A judge has ordered former Representative Katie Hill to pay more than $100,000 in legal fees to the Daily Mail over her unsuccessful revenge porn lawsuit.

Ms Hill, 33, had accused the British newspaper of violating her consent by publishing her intimate photos, but lost two rounds of the lawsuit on First Amendment grounds earlier this year.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Yolanda Orozco on Wednesday awarded the Daily Mail about $105,000 in attorney fees.

Ms Hill took to Twitter after the order and said that: “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.” She added: “The justice system is broken for victims.”

Ms Hill resigned in 2019 from Congress — she briefly represented Los Angeles County — when allegations of an inappropriate sexual relationship with one of her congressional staffers came to light.

On her social media handle, she asked for a boycott of the British tabloid and sought donations to cover her legal costs. A spokesperson also told US media she plans on appealing the court ruling.

Earlier, Ms Hill was also ordered to pay two conservative journalists — $84,000 to the attorneys of Jennifer Van Laar, managing editor of the conservative website Red State and about $30,000 to lawyers representing radio producer Joseph Messina. She had earlier claimed that Messina was involved in a conspiracy to distribute her intimate photos, but later dropped those allegations.

Last year in December, Ms Hill had filed a lawsuit against the two journalists and her then-husband Kenneth Heslep — she was in the middle of a divorce from Heslep — accusing them of violating California state’s revenge porn law.

The Daily Mail and the other journalists had asserted their right under the First Amendment of the US Constitution to publish information about an elected official’s behaviour. The publications and Van Laar successfully argued that Ms Hill’s lawsuit failed to meet the requirements of the revenge porn statute. They also argued that they were not the original publishers of the pictures.

Krista Lee Baughman, an attorney representing Van Laar and Messina, told the media that the ruling showed that “those who file speech-chilling [intimidation] lawsuits must pay the price”.

She added: “If you have a problem with the way the Legislature wrote the revenge-porn statute, that needs to be addressed in the Legislature. The court is duty-bound to follow the writing. In this case, the statute itself clearly had a public interest exception.”

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