Former U.S. Rep. Katie Hill (D-CA) saw her promising political career end in disgrace when she was caught up in a sex scandal in late 2019.
Now, the former congresswoman has been ordered to pay hefty attorneys’ fees in a related case involving so-called revenge porn, the Washington Examiner reports.
Photos deemed to be in public interest
Hill reportedly owes U.K. tabloid newspaper the Daily Mail $100,000, bringing the total of her court-ordered payments to more than $200,000.
She previously alleged that the paper inflicted emotional harm by publishing photos of her without consent, but the case was subsequently dismissed due to the “public interest” exception to California’s revenge porn statute.
In 2019, the Daily Mail published private photos of Hill brushing a woman’s hair and holding a bong. She later claimed that her ex-husband leaked the compromising photos as her career as an elected official was already unraveling over reports of a relationship involving a female subordinate and an affair with a male staffer.
Hill denied the allegations of an affair but admitted to bringing the woman into her marital relationship and eventually resigned under the weight of the scandal.
According to the New York Post, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Yolanda Orozco ruled in April that the photos reflected on Hill’s “character” and “qualifications” for office and were therefore in the public’s interest to see them.
“The justice system is broken for victims”
Hill also owes $84,000 to lawyers for Red State managing editor Jennifer Van Laar and radio producer Joseph Messina, whom the congresswoman accused of helping leak the photos.
In response to the latest development, Hill portrayed herself as the victim of an unjust and “broken” system, calling for a boycott of the Daily Mail and seeking donations.
“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 tweeted. “The justice system is broken for victims.”
For her part, Krista Lee Baughman, who represents Van Laar, dismissed Hill’s lawsuit as an attempt to stifle free speech, declaring: “If you have a problem with the way the Legislature wrote the revenge-porn statute, that needs to be addressed in the Legislature.”
Hill has indicated that she plans to appeal the judge’s order.