"Revenge porn" victim speaks out after ex-husband is convicted - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

"Revenge porn" victim speaks out after ex-husband is convicted

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) -

A Louisiana man is headed for prison under a new law aimed at fighting cyberstalking and his target is speaking out.

A judge sentenced 39-year-old Wesley Ballew of Ruston to two years in prison and three years of supervised release, as well as $7,500 in reparations.

Prosecutors say he posted nude pictures of a woman on various websites.

Ballew is the first person convicted in the state under the new cyberstalking law enacted in 2015.

The victim is now speaking out in hopes she can help other women who find their intimate photos all over the internet by spiteful exes…victims of a horrific phenomenon called revenge porn.

“People don't realize there's an underground that works like this out there and things like that that are started because of because of sick exes thinking they can do that,” said the woman.

After having to deal with her image spread across the dark corners of the internet, she still wanted to share her story.

She asked to remain anonymous, so we'll call her Mary.

Mary was married to Wesley Ballew for what she says was a short period of time.

“I knew he had some mental health issues, which obviously kind of led to the divorce, but there wasn't any kind of horrible event that happened at the end, it was pretty amicable,” said Mary. “I wished him the best in life and back in 2009 was the last time I saw him.”

Flash forward a few years to 2012. Mary was working for a Fortune 500 company. She was in and out of meetings that day when she looked at her phone.

“I had 200 text messages, hundreds of emails on my phone,” said Mary. “I opened up Facebook and I had over 500 friend requests and I was like what's going on?”

It turns out Ballew posted a photo he took of her in an intimate setting on their wedding night, something meant to be private, shared with the one person she was supposed to trust.

“He had put that image along with pictures of my family, my sister, my daughter, where I worked, my Facebook link to my page, my email, my everything was on this website,” said Mary.

Ballew posted the link to Mary's company Facebook pages, and men began calling her, threatening her and her family, trying to extort money and more pictures.

“I had people calling me through my customer service line at work trying to get me to be a model for them and saying really disgusting things to me on the phone, I freaked out,” said Ballew.

Feeling helpless and panicked Mary and her sister turned to the FBI for help.

“They were very comforting to me,” said Mary. “They took all of my information and they assured me they were going to try to help me, but at that time in 2012, there weren't any laws to protect women, so the case kind of continued over the years and things escalated.”

Mary spent over $7500 to get the picture removed from the internet, but it just kept popping back up on different and new sites.

“Over the course of the years, we learned this website was finally taken down and several women had committed suicide over this issue,” said Mary. “I consider myself a pretty strong independent woman but this got to me.”

Even Mary admitted she felt hopeless.

“Because I knew he wouldn't stop,” said Mary. “I know people that are stalkers, I know people that are sick like that and they're not going to stop, so I knew for the rest of my life that panic that’s et in and he's always going to come after me this is never going to have a resolve or an ending.”

But in August of 2015, the Louisiana Legislature enacted a law stating any nude or partially nude image or video shared without permission is considered revenge porn and can lead to up to two years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Under this law, Mary and the FBI were able to obtain a search warrant and finally catch Ballew, who was arrested, pleaded guilty and sentenced to 2 years in prison with 3 years of supervised release.

“It's giving me a lot of peace,” said Mary. “It's made me feel a lot better that there's finally an end to this, but my suffering, it's just never going to end because this is the Internet and this is forever. You can’t get rid of these things.”

Even though Mary says she still receives horrible messages over Facebook, she feels like justice was served and she wants to make that a reality for other women who have fallen victim to what she calls a horrific and life-ruining crime.

“Don’t talk to the person who you think is harassing you, it's only going to make things worse. Don't try to get involved with those people and what's going on, because those are bad people, those are sick people. You need to take that it's an awful, awful crime. It's a crime of hatred and spite and revenge. It's almost one of the worst crimes that I think you could do to somebody, try to ruin their lives, so I would say stay out of that. Focus on who you are, focus on being strong and absolutely go to the FBI.”

If this story sounds similar to something you are experiencing, you can say something, there are people that can help.

Click HERE for FBI resources. 

Copyright 2017 KPLC. All rights reserved. 

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