Woman who won Colorado’s first civil trial in revenge porn case hopes it will encourage others

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DENVER (KDVR) — A Denver law firm says they have just won Colorado’s first civil trial in a revenge porn case.

Kristina Hendershott says she can finally breathe a sigh of relief, after the judge sided with her earlier this month in her civil case.

“Having a judge be able to see how immature and vindictive Eli Bowman was being—that was nice. That was a feeling of support,” Hendershott told FOX31.

She says her then-boyfriend, Eli Bowman, had gone through her phone while she was sleeping.

He discovered an old video in her Facebook messenger, before she and Bowman had been dating, of her and another man engaging in a sexual act.

“It was a really gross feeling. It made my stomach feel sick,” Hendershott said.

“He’s 44 years old, so I guess I expected a more mature approach to our relationship ending, than you trying to sexually exploit me,” she added.

She would later discover Bowman sent the video to Hendershott’s estranged husband, who she says she had been separated from for about three years.

“Regardless of us being separated, we’ve always been friends. There’s always been this trust and us being able to rely on each other if we needed to. And Eli—he destroyed that with this video. It was really hard for my ex to get that out of his head. It was painful for both of us,” Hendershott recalled.

Initially, Hendershott admits she wasn’t sure what legal action she was allowed to take.

“I started googling things. I said, ‘there has to be something illegal about this. That’s when I found out about the revenge porn law,” she said.

Colorado’s revenge porn law allows victims to file both criminal and civil charges.

“Young women have the power to control their own images, and control they own body. A person who wants to take that autonomy away from an individual will face consequences for it,” explained attorney Malissa Williams, with Marathon Law Denver.

Hendershott hired Williams, and another attorney with the firm, to represent her in a civil case—filed in 2019.

“This case was unusual because we’ve handled many of these types of cases before, and they typically always settle out of court.  But in this particular case, it went all the way to a trial, before a judge,” Williams said.

She tells FOX31 it’s Colorado’s first revenge porn civil case win.

According to court documents, Bowman did not appear for the one-day trial in early August, where a judge awarded Hendershott nearly $40,000.

“Colorado’s revenge porn law acts as both a deterrent and a way to redress someone who has been harmed by this unauthorized disclosure. I think it’s takes the ‘slut-shaming’ out of the equation,” said Williams.

The amount of $15,000 of that settlement is listed under pain and suffering.

“It gave me a lot of feelings of worthlessness, and it gave me a lot of trust issues,” Hendershott recalled.

“It was easy to throw me away like that and exploit me like that, like I was a piece of trash. It was really difficult to process those types of things, because you know—logically—that’s not true,” she added.

Hendershott says she’s still healing from the incident, and has since moved to Portland.

“I needed to get away from the mess. I needed a fresh start,” she said. “I’m trying to open up, go to the gym, go to work, focus on getting mentally and physically healthy again. That’s basically all I can do.”

She hopes sharing her story will encourage other victims to come forward.

“I hope now that this is getting out there that they realize this is is not a joke, and now you know that women or men, if this happens to them, that they have a voice to reach out and say something about it.”

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