Cyberstalking in Congress: 2 Former Staffers Charged

Private photos and videos surfaced last year
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 14, 2017 4:07 AM CDT
Del.-elect Stacey Plaskett, D-V.I., second from left,, and Rep.-elect John Moolenaar, R-Mich., second from right, prepare to pose for a group photo of the incoming 114th Congress House members on the...   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

(Newser) – Almost exactly a year ago, in July 2016, a "playful" family video and a handful of private nude images shared between husband and wife were posted online by an anonymous user who encouraged people to distribute them widely, per Politico. But the content wasn't about just anybody, it featured a House of Representatives member—and her staffers may have been behind it. This week, two former staff members of Virgin Islands Del. Stacey Plaskett (D) were charged in the circulation of the private material, reports the Washington Post. Juan McCullum was indicted by a grand jury on two counts of cyberstalking, and Dorene Browne-Louis was indicted on two counts of obstruction of justice. NBC News reports that McCullum has yet to appear in court, while Browne-Louis has pleaded not guilty.

Though she was named only by her initials in the court documents, Plaskett confirmed her identity and said in a statement that her privacy was invaded last year, "followed by an organized smear campaign," just before election time. She says she and her family "continue to be saddened by the damage we suffered as a result of those egregious acts." The indictment alleges that McCullum accessed private content after offering to take a House member's malfunctioning iPhone (Plaskett's phone, per NBC) to a local Apple store to be repaired. He left Plaskett's staff in June, shortly before the images were posted under a fake name online. Plaskett, who was re-elected with 85% of the vote, made news this week when she wrote in the Hill about the "eerily similar" status of the Virgin Islands to the original 13 colonies, calling it an "ironic state of freedom without democracy." (Read more Virgin Islands stories.)

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