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Judge rules man accused of operating revenge porn website, extortion scheme will go to trial

SAN DIEGO - A San Diego judge determined prosecutors have enough evidence against the alleged operator of a revenge porn site for him to face trial on conspiracy, identity theft and extortion charges, a state spokesman said Monday.

Kevin Christopher Bollaert, 27, appeared before San Diego County Superior Court Judge David M. Gill on Monday and returns to court July 16 for what's being heralded as the first case against a revenge porn site operator, said Nicholas Pacilio, a spokesman for California Attorney General Kamala Harris. Bollaert has pleaded not guilty to 31 felony counts.

His attorney Alexander Landon did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Authorities say the Bollaert earned tens of thousands dollars operating two websites for the scheme.

Prosecutors say at one site, people uploaded nude pictures without permission of those photographed and listed their names, cities and links to their Facebook profiles. When asked to remove photos, Bollaert allegedly contacted victims from a separate website and charged them up to $350. Bollaert voluntarily took the sites both offline when contacted by investigators last year, Pacilio said.

The term "revenge porn" is used because most of the explicit images have been posted online by former lovers in attempts to shame their former partners after a breakup.

The images used can be obtained consensually during a relationship or can be stolen or hacked from online accounts.

The practice resulted in a new California law that makes it a misdemeanour to post identifiable nude pictures of someone else online without their permission and with the intent of causing serious emotional distress or humiliation, though that law was not cited in the charges against Bollaert.

Unlike most revenge porn sites, investigators said Bollaert's requirement that a victim's personal information be included is what led to the identity theft allegations.

Bollaert's also charged with obtaining identifying information with the intent to annoy or harass. The extortion charges are for allegedly charging women to remove those photos through the second website. Victims were unaware that Bollaert was allegedly operating both sites and investigators determined the connection during the probe, Pacilio said.

Authorities say he told investigators during a six-month investigation that he received about $900 each month from online advertising. But PayPal records show he's received tens of thousands of dollars.

In addition to Bollaert, the attorney general has arrested another alleged operator of a revenge porn site. Casey E. Meyering, 28, of Tulsa, Oklahoma was extradited from Oklahoma to stand trial in California two weeks ago, Pacilio said.

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