New Orleans woman booked with ‘revenge porn’ offense

A Lower 9th Ward woman accused of publicly posting a romantic rival’s nude photograph in hopes of humiliating her could face up to two years in prison if found guilty under Louisiana’s so-called “revenge porn” statute.

Records show 26-year-old Valencia Smith is free on a $2,500 bond after her March 2 arrest by New Orleans police. Smith was booked with the non-consensual disclosure of a private image, which was established as a crime by state legislators in 2015.

According to her arrest documents, Smith was in a “long-term relationship” and has a 7-month-old child with a 24-year-old man who was arrested last month in New Orleans for multiple outstanding warrants in Jefferson Parish. Police said that while the man was jailed, Smith retrieved his property — including his cellphone — from central lockup at the Orleans Justice Center.

Smith apparently examined the text messages on the man’s phone, and found a nude photograph sent to him on Feb. 8 and two bikini photos sent Feb. 10 by a 21-year-old woman described as the victim in the case. That woman told police she had been dating the man for approximately one month, around the time she believed he had ended his relationship with Smith.

Police accuse Smith of creating a three-photo collage from the found photographs and then posting it on her own Instagram account on Feb. 25, tagging the younger woman on the entry. Smith’s Instagram page has since been deleted.

The arrest documents said the victim and her sister also received “a number of threatening messages” sent from the man’s Instagram account. One message to the woman’s sister in Baton Rouge said, “N ya sista mad cause her p—- got screenshot dat wat happens wen u send pics to n—- (followed by three crying/laughing emojis).”

The alleged victim provided police with five pages of Instagram messages captured by screenshot from the conversation, the report said.

Court records show Smith was made to sign a protective order barring contact with the younger woman and is due back in court May 1.

State law bans the non-consensual disclosure of private images and defines the offense thusly:

  • The person intentionally discloses an image of another person who is 17 or older, who is identifiable from the image or information displayed in connection with the image, and whose intimate parts are exposed in whole or in part.
  • The person who discloses the image obtained it under circumstances in which a reasonable person would know or understand that the image was to remain private.
  • The person who discloses the image knew or should have known that the person in the image did not consent to the disclosure of the image.
  • The person who discloses the image has the intent to harass or cause emotional distress to the person in the image, and knew or should have known that disclosure could have those results.

Disclosure of such images is not considered an offense when done by a law enforcement agency for the purpose of a criminal investigation, or by someone using such images to report unlawful conduct to a criminal justice agency. The law also does not apply when the image is of a public figure or related to a matter of public interest, or when the person depicted in the image voluntarily or knowingly exposed his or her intimate parts in a public setting.

A 19-year-old New Orleans man was arrested last November in what was believed to be the city’s first “revenge porn” case since the new law was enacted. Court records show the bond on Montrell Stemley’s arrest was set at $10,000 by Orleans Parish Magistrate Judge Harry Cantrell, four times higher than the $2,500 bond applied last week to Smith’s case by magistrate commissioner Jonathan Friedman.

Stemley’s case has been accepted for prosecution by the Orleans Parish District Attorney’s office, and Criminal District Court Judge Robin Pittman has scheduled a hearing on motions in that case for March 30.