Staff Member Indicted for Spreading Nude Photos of U.S. Congresswoman
35-year old Juan McCullum was indicted Thursday on charges of spreading nude photos of U.S. Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett (D-VI).
Congresswoman Plaskett is a member of the House Committee on Agriculture and the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in the U.S. House of Representatives.
In March last year, McCullum, a staff member of Representative Plaskett, allegedly took the “private, nude images and videos” off her phone after offering to take it to the Apple store for repairs.
The indictment states that McCullum did not have permission to tamper with or take any of the information from Plaskett’s phone.
The indictment also states that in July last year, McCullum allegedly created a fake email and Facebook account where he posted and shared the photos and videos with members of the media and other politicians.
On the Facebook, he allegedly encouraged others to share the photos. The photos of Representative Plaskett surfaced online shortly before a primary election.
Now McCullum is facing charges of two counts of cyberstalking which carry a maximum of five years in prison for each indictment.
According to news media accounts, the images taken from Plaskett’s phone included a topless photo of Plaskett and an “innocent” video of her husband, Jonathan Buckney-Small wearing make-up and playing with their daughter.
Reacting to the indictment, Representative Plaskett said that she is saddened by the damage suffered by her family as a result of McCullum’s actions.
“Last year, my privacy was invaded, which was followed by an organized smear campaign and defamatory press reports concerning both my family and me. I was informed today that preliminary arrests had been made of individuals who are alleged to have been involved in those illegal acts,” she said in a press release.
“I am deeply grateful to the Capitol Police and U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia for their thorough and in depth investigation of the crimes committed against me, and those who I love. Aside from the arrests announced today, the investigation is ongoing, and because of that, we are not able to provide any other updates at this time.”
“While we continue to be saddened by the damage we suffered as a result of these egregious acts, my family and I are also incredibly thankful to the people of the Virgin Islands, who have shown us tremendous care, sensitivity, and love throughout this ordeal,” she added.
Another staff member, Dorene Browne-Louise, 45, is also facing two counts for obstruction of justice for intentionally misleading the investigation. The grounds for these charges involve the alleged deleting of text conversations between Browne-Louise and McCullum. These charges carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.
Both McCullum and Browne-Louise worked in Plaskett’s office prior to the incident but they both left the congresswoman’s office months before the photos surfaced. McCullum worked as a legislative staffer and Browne-Louise worked as a scheduler.
Attorneys for both McCullum and Browne-Louise have not been publicly named or accessible. Official court dates have not yet been scheduled for either defendant.
On Thursday, Browne-Louise pleaded not guilty to her charges and will return to court next week.
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