Two former employees of Stacey Plaskett, Congress’ delegate from the Virgin Islands, have been indicted in connection with the circulation of nude images of Plaskett and her husband.
One former aide, Juan McCullum, was charged with two counts of cyberstalking, and the other, Dorene Browne-Louis, faces two obstruction of justice charges in a case investigated by the U.S. Capitol Police and prosecuted by the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia.
According to authorities, both aides worked for Plaskett for more than a year before they departed in mid-2016. The images had been circulated widely by late July 2016 and Plaskett confirmed at the time they had been stolen from her.
According to the U.S. attorney’s description of the charges, in March 2016, Plaskett asked McCullum to take her iPhone to an Apple store for repairs. While he had her phone, he created Hotmail and Facebook accounts under a pseudonym to distribute and post nude images of Plaskett and her spouse. He used these social media accounts to encourage others to spread the images and videos around Plaskett’s congressional district, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.
McCullum allegedly alerted Browne-Louis to his actions, who later deleted his text messages from her phone and gave “false, incomplete, and misleading statements” to law enforcement about her knowledge of McCullum’s actions. She is due to appear in federal court on July 19, while McCullum’s first appearance has yet to be scheduled.
The allegations, if proved, would represent a shocking betrayal by the delegate’s own staff, and a turnabout from her initial suggestion that her political enemies had hacked her computer and distributed the files.
“The theft and distribution of these personal images via the internet marks a new low in Virgin Islands politics,” she said at the time. “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.”
“Private photographs shared between my husband and me, as well as a private playful video of our family, including one of our children, were illegally obtained and disseminated via the internet. To say my family and I are greatly upset would be a tremendous understatement," Plaskett added. "As a mother I am outraged that one of my children was exploited in such a way. The theft and dissemination of these images via the internet is a shockingly disgusting invasion of my family’s and my privacy – not to mention criminal acts in violation of both territorial and federal law."
Plaskett, a lawyer and former congressional staffer, is in her second term as a delegate.