A judge this week dealt Katie Hill another legal blow by dismissing Salem Media Group as a defendant in the former congresswoman’s revenge porn lawsuit alleging nude photos of her were published without her permission.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Yolanda Orozco ruled that Salem Media, owner of the conservative blog RedState.com, had shown that the photos were matters of legitimate interest involving a public official because they addressed Hill’s character and qualifications for her position.
RedState.com published one article in October 2019 with a link to a photograph of Hill brushing a female worker’s hair. The blog maintained the photo did not depict any “intimate body part’’ of Hill and argued that Hill’s actions called into question her character and ability to continue as a representative in American government. In contrast, Hill’s attorneys maintained that the “core injury-producing conduct underlying plaintiff’s claims is the theft and non consensual distribution of her private sexual images,’’ the judge wrote.
But Orozco found that the distribution of the intimate images through their publication on a public website constitutes a “statement’’ or “other conduct in furtherance’’ of the right to free speech.
“Here, the intimate images published by (RedState.com) spoke to plaintiff’s character and qualifications for her position, as they allegedly depicted Plaintiff with a campaign staffer with whom it was alleged she had a sexual affair,’’ the judge wrote in a tentative ruling Monday that she finalized on Tuesday. “Accordingly, the images were a matter of public issue or public interest.’’
Hill, a Democrat, resigned in 2019 after the nude photos were published and news emerged that she had a three-way relationship with her husband and a campaign staffer. She was also accused of having an affair with a member of her congressional staff.