Two former staff members have been charged in the distribution of nude images and video of an elected member of Congress and her husband via social media, prosecutors and the U.S. Capitol Police announced Thursday, July 13.
Juan R. McCullum, 35, was indicted by a grand jury on two counts of cyberstalking, and co-worker, Dorene Browne-Louis, 45, was indicted on two counts of obstruction of justice, U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, Channing D. Phillips, and Capitol Police Chief Matthew R. Verderosa said in a statement. Court documents show that the duo worked for the same official, who is simply identified as “S.P.,” at the time of the incident.
In a statement Thursday, Virgin Islands Del. Stacey Plaskett (D) confirmed that she is “S.P.,” saying, “last year, my privacy was invaded, which was followed by an organized smear campaign and defamatory press reports concerning both me and my family.”
“We continue to be saddened by the damage we suffered as a result of those egregious acts,” Plaskett added. She went on to thank the authorities for their hard work.
A few of the House member’s private photos surfaced on the web in July 2016 right before a primary election, according to The Washington Post.
The indictment shows that in March 2016, McCullum, who worked as a legislative counsel at the time, offered to take Plaskett’s broken iPhone to a nearby Apple store for repair. At no time was he given permission to take, copy or distribute contents on the device, which included personal, naked photos and video, investigators said.
After he stopped working for Plaskett’s office in July, McCullum reportedly created email and Facebook accounts using a fake name in order to circulate the images and a “playful video” of Plaskett, her husband and their children. The former counsel is also accused of encouraging others to share the material on social media and is reported to have texted Browne-Louis about his illicit activities as early as July 2, 2016. McCullum even e-mailed her some of the private materials, the indictment alleges.
Federal prosecutors have accused Browne-Louis of deleting text messages she received from her former co-worker and of making false and misleading statements to the police and the grand jury. USA TODAY reported she pleaded not guilty to obstruction of justice charges Thursday and was released on her own recognizance.
The former scheduler, who faces up to 20 years in prison, is due back in court July 19, according to the newspaper.
McCullum has yet to appear in court. His charges carry a maximum of five years behind bars.