Wednesday 20 February 2019

Woman posted details from family law court sitting after receiving 'revenge porn' threat, court hears

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Gordon Deegan

A County Clare woman posted details aired at a behind-closed doors family law court sitting on Facebook after she received a ‘revenge porn’ threat from her ex-partner, a court has heard.

At the family law court in Ennis, solicitor for the woman, Pamela Clancy said that the ‘revenge power threat’ explanation put forward by the woman was not a justification or excuse for her client to make the Facebook post.

Ms Clancy said: “What caused the outburst on Facebook was a perceived threat that her former partner was going to be releasing personal information on her.”

The estranged couple appeared before the family law court in Ennis in November concerning access and maintenance for their child.

In early December, the woman posted a narrative on her Facebook account running to two printed pages that included information that was heard at the behind closed door hearing where there are strict rules prohibiting parties making public details of what occurred.

In a letter read out in court and sent to the man’s solicitor, Anne Walsh, Ms Clancy stated that her client alleges that her former partner “threatened to publish extremely sensitive and personal material he admitted to having on my client which she interpreted to be a ‘Revenge Porn’ threat, which at the time provoked her to in relation to posting the original long narrative on Facebook”.

In court, Judge Patrick Durcan warned the estranged couple that if there any instances of breaching the in-camera rule proven from now on, he will impose prison sentences of 14 days on either party.

Ms Walsh brought the application to court concerning the alleged breach of the in-camera rule.

Ms Walsh said that the Facebook post was brought to the attention of her client by third parties with the narrative giving the woman’s version of her relationship with Ms Walsh’s client.

Ms Walsh said that she wrote a letter on December 5th pointing out that the information was inaccurate and that her client’s family were distressed and asked that the author would post an apology on Facebook and that there would be  more postings on Facebook.

However, Ms Walsh stated that instead of an apology, her client’s former partner posted another message on Facebook that was derogatory towards her client.

Ms Walsh stated that it was quite astonishing to receive the complaint of 'revenge porn', which was never on anyone’s radar until the letter arrived.

She said: “My client’s only concern is that the original posting which is two pages of very small type on Facebook should not have happened.

She added: “He wants to get on with his life - what was published on social media was there for the world to see.”

Ms Clancy said that her client has removed the Facebook posts and apologised for them.

Ms Clancy said that earlier on the day that her client made the Facebook post, she received a text from her former partner which read ‘You might want to think of the material I have on you and I will publish it’.

Ms Clancy said that her client was extremely upset and extremely distressed to receive such a text.

Ms Clancy said: “She is not saying that justifies her reaction but that is what precipitated what occurred. In retrospect she regrets everything and went on to Facebook foolishly.”

In court the man said said referring to the text: “I didn’t threaten it. I didn’t threaten anything. That is not a threat.”

Ms Clancy said that there “was an element of tit for tat” in what occurred. She added: “She apologises now and undertakes that there will be no more such communication.”

Ms Clancy said that the parties’ relationship is quite fractious. She said: "There are ongoing issues with access. There is a high level of dispute between the parties and emotions have been running high."

Addressing the couple, Judge Durcan said: “The in-camera rule is there for very good reasons. You should be very careful in dealing with a case such as this.

He said: “What happens within this courtroom stays within this courtroom other than the matter may be reported by the media in accordance with the law which govern the reporting of proceedings in camera.”

He added: “This court would take the breach of the in-camera rule by either of you most seriously and it would be regarded as a contempt of court should be it that it is proven against either of you.”

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