California man jailed for 18 years for operating US 'revenge porn' site

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - A California man who posted thousands of sexually explicit photos of men and women on a "revenge porn" website was jailed for 18 years on Friday in what was described as the first case of its kind in US criminal history.

San Diego man Kevin Bollaert, 28, was convicted in February of running a website that hosted more than 10,000 explicit photographs.

California Attorney-General Kamala Harris said it marked the first criminal prosecution of a cyber-exploitation website operator in the United States.

Bollaert's website - ugotposted.com - was launched in December 2012, enabling photographs to be posted without the subject's permission. Bollaert ran a parallel site that then extorted individuals up to US$350 (S$472) each to remove photographs from the revenge porn website.

Victims of the scam spoke in court in San Diego on Friday as they described the damage done to their reputations.

"My life has gone through a down-spiral," one of Bollaert's victims told Judge David Gill, adding that she had been ostracised by her mother because of the shame she brought on her family.

Another victim, Nicole, added: "I have a hard time acknowledging Mr Bollaert as a human being. I can't get away from the devastation."

Unlike other revenge porn websites where photos are anonymous, ugotposted.com required the poster to include the subject's full name, location, age and Facebook profile link.

Bollaert created a second website, changemyreputation.com, which he used when individuals contacted ugotposted.com asking for their photos to be removed from the site, earning thousands of dollars in the process.

Bollaert's parents pleaded for leniency, insisting their son was remorseful.

However, Judge Gill called Bollaert's conduct "outrageous".

Mr Harris said Friday's sentence "makes clear there will be severe consequences for those that profit from the exploitation of victims online".

"We will continue to be vigilant and investigate and prosecute those who commit these deplorable acts," she said.