Former California Rep. Katie Hill filed a lawsuit on Tuesday against her ex-husband, the owners of The Daily Mail, and the conservative blog RedState for leaking nude photos of her, which the suit claims constitutes “non-consensual porn.” It also argues that the First Amendment does not give news outlets the right to “sexually degrade and expose public officials.”
In fall 2019, hundreds of Hill’s intimate photos and private text messages were leaked and quickly spread across the internet, which Hill claims is the result of her ex’s revenge for trying to leave him. The scandal caused Hill to resign from her seat in Congress, making a powerful speech that decried the “misogynistic culture that gleefully consumed my naked pictures, capitalized on my sexuality, and enabled my abusive ex to continue that abuse.” After the photos came out, Congress had also launched an ethics probe into a relationship Hill had with one of her staffers, something that she has since apologized for.
Hill has recounted fearing for her life during her relationship with her ex, saying he threatened her with a gun and choked her until she was unconscious. In August 2020, she released She Will Rise, an autobiography and activist primer in which she describes her experiences with his abuse and her struggles with self-harm and depression after the resignation. Hill told Refinery29 at the time that she still has nightmares after the years of trauma. “It’s something that takes continual work and I think anyone who’s been through trauma, whatever kind it might be, knows that all too well,” Hill said.
Hill was granted a temporary restraining order against her ex two weeks ago, after which, the lawsuit says, some of the defendants seeked to "humiliate her further, harder, louder, and more viciously; even publishing new naked images they know were taken and disseminated without Hill's consent." Three days after the restraining order was approved, The Daily Mail published another nude photo of Hill.
In the 41-page lawsuit, Hill cites her ex-husband Kenny Heslep, Salem Media Group Inc., Mail Media Group Inc., and RedState deputy managing editor Jennifer Van Laar, among others.
The judge who granted the restraining order is scheduled to rule on December 30 whether it should include an injunction against her ex providing “confidential information” about Hill to the press and public.