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Assistant DA discusses sextortion, child safety after Tuscumbia revenge porn arrest

Revenge porn and sextortion are relatively new laws passed by the state in 2017.

Posted: Jan 26, 2021 5:20 PM
Updated: Jan 27, 2021 4:46 PM

A Tuscumbia man is in trouble for taking a nude photo of a woman without her consent and then posting it to his Facebook page.

James Carl Hancock from Tuscumbia was arrested in nearby Franklin County after the victim swore out warrants against him. He's charged with distributing a private image, which falls under Alabama's revenge porn laws passed in 2017.

In this case, Hancock was only charged with a misdemeanor.

While Hancock is charged with a misdemeanor in Franklin County, the district attorney's office in Lauderdale County said they are seeing more and more cases of sextortion, which is a felony. Basically people are getting nude images, using them against the victim to get money and then demanding that they meet up or they will release these images.

"We have charged more sextortion cases, and we've had that across the board with adults and minors," said Lauderdale County Assistant District Attorney Angie Hamilton.

Hamilton said when someone sends a nude photo of themselves to someone they might trust, it can be leaked or intercepted by other parties, so then you end up with victims being extorted by someone they might not even know.

"They're showing their images to them, saying 'you better send me more images or I'm going to expose you. You better send me money or I'm going to expose you. You better meet up with me and we will go do some stuff, or I'm going to expose you.' These children and these young adults, and I've had older adults do the same thing, they are too embarrassed and they don't know who to turn to because they are ashamed, and then, they get themselves in a worse situation," said Hamilton.

Hamilton said if you are under the age of 18 and sending nude photos to someone you trust, those can fall into the hands of pedophiles. So, sending or receiving nude pictures of someone under the age of 18 is child porn.

"We've had victims in Lauderdale County who have shown up in the hands of people out of state through child pornography networks and people sharing pictures, because pedophiles share images like baseball cards," said Hamilton.

Hamilton said it's best to turn to law enforcement because they can work with tech companies to trace the person who posted the photo and have it removed, but some tech companies are easier to work with than others.

"When you put something through the internet or through one of those apps, a lot of times when you download those things, you are accepting all terms and conditions. They're not reading anything. Those companies are now owning their images and they can do what they want with them, and they don't have to cooperate with law enforcement. There are some that are helpful and they do, and sometimes, we can get those images taken down," said Hamilton.

Prior to the pandemic, Hamilton and other officers would go into schools and talk with students about the dangers of social media and sharing images. They also had parent nights to educate adults on how to protect their kids, but because of the pandemic, they haven't had the parent nights or education moments in the schools.

Hamilton said sometimes, they would have big turnouts and other times they wouldn't, but she said if anyone has any questions, they can contact her directly or the DA's office, OnePlace of the Shoals and the Lauderdale County Sheriff's Office.

Hamilton's email address is ahamilton@daconnolly.com.

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