Charlevoix County PA News Release – November 2, 2015

Bloomfield Hills Man Facing ‘Revenge Porn’ Charge

A 25-year old Bloomfield Hills man is facing criminal charges in Charlevoix County after allegedly posted nude photos of a woman on the internet after the breakup of their relationship.

Andrew Forbes Roche was arrested in August after posting photos of his ex-girlfriend on a website designed for revenge and shaming former partners. According to the complaint, Roche posted several nude photos of the victim on the website without her consent, along with her personal contact information, as a form of retaliation after the woman ended their relationship.

“Revenge porn is a relatively new and particularly serious form of abuse,” said Charlevoix County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Gregory Justis. “The concept of revenge porn is simple: to use the victim’s most intimate moments and her most private space – her own body – to degrade and humiliate her, and to engage thousands or millions of strangers on the internet to participate in the act.”

According to the prosecutor, the victim was made aware of the photos, which included several nude “selfies” sent privately during their relationship, after receiving an anonymous call and comments from people who had viewed the website.

As of the date of the complaint, the victim’s photos had been viewed over 50,000 times.

“The young woman in this case is constantly victimized,” said Justis. “Each time her photos are viewed, each time a degrading comment is posted by a stranger, each time her phone receives a call or text from an unknown number, she’s harmed in a very real way.”

Michigan is one of several states attempting to address the problem of revenge porn through either new laws or the use of older laws to prosecute the act. “The sole purpose of these websites is sexualized violence, particularly against women,” said Justis. “They are designed explicitly to turn intimacy into pain. When an individual posts nude photos on these sites without a victim’s permission or even knowledge, he exercises control over that person and receives the gratification of knowing that she’s being publicly injured.”

Despite a recent push to prosecute revenge porn cases, removing photos from the websites has proven difficult. “Once the photos are on the internet, it’s incredibly difficult to remove them,” explains Justis. “The sites are often based overseas, and demand payment of hundreds of dollars from individuals who wish to have their photos taken down. And even if someone pays, the photos remain online.”

Roche faces a charge of unlawful posting of message, a two-year felony.  The trial is scheduled for February 22, 2016 in the 33rd Circuit Court.

The charges against Roche are mere allegations and he is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

About Allen Telgenhof

Allen Telgenhof is the Charlevoix County Prosecuting Attorney; beginning his 14th year of coaching high school baseball, now as varsity coach at Boyne Falls Public Schools. Graduated from Clio High School, Michigan State University and Thomas M. Cooley Law School. Father of four great children, ages 27, 25, 20 and 19.
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