DOJ Charges Two Former Staffers With Sharing Nude Images Of House Member

FILE - In this May 14, 2013, file photo, the Department of Justice headquarters building in Washington is photographed early in the morning. The Justice Department has signaled that it won’t try to block a lawsuit arising from the CIA’s harsh interrogation techniques, leaving the door open for a court challenge over tactics that have since been discontinued and widely discredited. (AP Photo/J. David Ake, File)
J. David Ake/AP

The Department of Justice on Thursday announced charges against two former House staffers related to their circulation of “private, nude images and videos” of a House member and the member’s spouse.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office of the District of Columbia announced that a grand jury indicted Juan R. McCullum on two counts of cyberstalking and Dorene Browne-Louis on two counts of obstruction of justice.

According to the release, McCullum offered to help the House member, who the Department of Justice did not name, by taking the member’s “malfunctioning” iPhone to an Apple store and “was not given permission to take, copy, or distribute any of the contents of the iPhone,” which contained the images and video.

After McCullum left his job as a staffer, the Department of Justice said, he created “a Facebook social media account, using a fictitious name, to distribute and post the private images and videos” and “encouraged others” to share them in the member’s district.

“McCullum also sent text messages to Browne-Louis alerting her to his activities,” according to the statement. Browne-Louis allegedly deleted those messages and made “false, incomplete, and misleading statements” to law enforcement and a grand jury.

Browne-Louis made her first court appearance Thursday and pleaded not guilty, according to the Department of Justice, while McCullum’s first appearance was not yet scheduled.

McCullum and Browne-Louis both worked in the office of Del. Stacey Plaskett (D-Virgin Islands), according to the Hill and InsideGov.com. McCullum was Plaskett’s general counsel and made the Hill’s “Most Beautiful” list in 2015. Before working on Capitol Hill, he went by “Pretty” on VH1’s reality television show “I Love New York.”

Politico in July 2016 reported that a “private” video of Plaskett’s husband was posted online, as was a photo of Plaskett partially nude. Plaskett acknowledged both as real and said personal “photographs and a private family video” were copied from her computer.

“The theft and distribution of these personal images via the internet marks a new low in Virgin Islands politics,” Plaskett said in a statement to Politico. “I am shocked and deeply saddened that someone would stoop to such a level as to invade my marriage and the love of my family in an attempt to besmirch me politically.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Esme Cribb is a newswriter for TPM in New York City. She can be found on Twitter @emquiry and reached by email at esme@talkingpointsmemo.com.
LIKE US ON FACEBOOK