Man is first to be sentenced under Minnesota's 'revenge porn' law

He posted nude pictures of his ex-girlfriend onto Facebook.
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A man charged under Minnesota's "revenge porn" law after posting nude pictures of his ex-girlfriend has been sentenced.

Depressed over their breakup and "relapsing" into alcohol, Michael Weigel, 39, of Anoka, posted the pictures taken of his ex while they were still together onto a Facebook page.

In spring of 2016, state lawmakers passed a bill making revenge porn, as it's often referred to, illegal. It was signed by Gov. Mark Dayton and went into effect on Aug. 1, 2016.

On Tuesday, Weigel became the first person to be sentenced under the law, according to the Pioneer Press, with his ex-girlfriend telling the court she "wanted to crawl into a hole and disappear" when the images were shared.

Weigel said he was "incredibly sorry," and had since undertaken therapy, but the newspaper says Ramsey County District Judge Stephen Smith ignored his request to avoid further jail time, after his ex asked the judge to "set a precedent" with sentencing.

According to the sentencing document, Weigel will have to serve 120 days in jail, taking into account 56 days he's already served.

He'll also be placed on supervised probation for three years, monitored by Ramsey County Probation.

After the sentencing, Ramsey County Attorney John Choi told GoMN: "We are very pleased with the outcome in this case. Those who would harm victims in such a callous and harmful manner are now being held accountable.

"This is a new area of police investigation and prosecution and I am so grateful to those individuals who worked on this case and for the victim’s courage in telling her story in open court," Choi added.

More about nonconsensual pornography

Minnesota is now one of 38 states with revenge porn laws in the books, the group Cyber Civil Rights Initiative says – that's up from 23 states at the start of 2016. (The group also prefers the term "nonconsensual pornography" to "revenge porn," since the motive isn't always revenge.)

A recent study by the initiative found 12.8 percent of people said someone had threatened to share sexually explicit images of them; 8 percent said someone had indeed spread photos or video without their consent.

Women were more likely than men to be victims, though it does happen to both sexes.

The group's website also has a guide for how to request nonconsensual pornography be removed from different websites.

While not in all cases, the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative says revenge porn is often a form of domestic violence. For example, an abuser will threaten to leak intimate photos if the victim leaves or calls the police.

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