Model faces $1m lawsuit for posting image of naked woman in changing room
A Playboy model who posted a photograph of an elderly woman naked in a gym changing room, with a sarcastic comment, could face a prison sentence and a $1m damages claim after the victim said she was interested in pressing charges.
Dani Mathers, the 2015 Playboy Playmate of the Year, took the unflattering photograph in July, inside a Los Angeles gym.
The woman had been dressing when she was photographed naked by Mathers, who added a caption of "if I can't unsee this then you can't either", before uploading it to Snapchat.
The image was greeted with a barrage of anger at her "body-shaming" of the pensioner.
Mathers was fired from her job with LA radio station KLOS, and the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) has since opened a criminal investigation into the matter.
Devin McRae, an entertainment lawyer, said that the victim could be in line for a $1m claim for damages.
"It could go into the seven figures, it would seem," he told website The Wrap. "I think the victim would have a very solid case."
He said she could sue for invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress. She could also potentially sue under a "revenge porn" statute, which forbids the intentional distribution of an image of a person without that person's consent, if the distributor of the image knew that the subject had a "reasonable expectation that the material would remain private" and if the image "exposes an intimate body part of the other person".
Dissemination of private images carries a punishment of up to six months behind bars.
The LAPD is looking to make an example out of Mathers, and the LA city attorney has already launched a review of the case and will announce its decision soon, according to gossip site TMZ.
The 29-year-old claimed she posted the image by mistake, and issued an apology.
"I just want to acknowledge a photo that I accidentally posted," she said. "It was absolutely wrong and not what I meant to do. I chose to do what I do for a living because I love the female body and I know body- shaming is wrong, that's not what I'm about and this is not the type of person I am. The photo was taken as part of a personal conversation with a girlfriend and because I am new to Snapchat I really didn't realise I had posted it, and that was a huge mistake.
"I know I have upset a lot of people out there but please, please believe me when I say this: this is not the type of person that I am. I have never done this before and I will never do this again, you have my word."
Her lawyer, Tom Mesereau, who helped Michael Jackson beat child molestation charges in 2005, said he hoped that reports the woman was intending to press charges were false. "I hope the rumours are not true," he said.
"Dani Mathers never tried to hurt anyone at any time and certainly never tried to break the law."
She sparked the furore when she posted the picture in July. Twitter user Hollie Taylor tweeted at Mathers: "It's people like you that make others feel uneasy about changing openly in locker rooms. Appalling"; while Priscilla Sanchez added: "That poor woman's naked body is now circulating the internet when she never intended it to. It's really heartbreaking."