Congressman Joe Barton might have been the victim of revenge porn.

Congressman Joe Barton Might Have Been the Victim of Revenge Porn

Congressman Joe Barton Might Have Been the Victim of Revenge Porn

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Nov. 22 2017 4:24 PM

Congressman Joe Barton Might Have Been the Victim of Revenge Porn

Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) questions witnesses during a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing concerning federal efforts to combat the opioid crisis, October 25, 2017.

Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Texas Rep. Joe Barton may have been the victim of revenge porn, after an anonymous Twitter user posted explicit photos and texts of the longtime congressman.

Barton released the following statement on Wednesday apologizing for his judgment:

While separated from my second wife, prior to the divorce, I had sexual relationships with other mature adult women. Each was consensual. Those relationships have ended. I am sorry I did not use better judgment during those days. I am sorry that I let my constituents down.

Barton also told the Texas Tribune that he was weighing his political future. "You're as aware of what was posted as I am," he said. "I am talking to a number of people, all of whom I have faith in and am deciding how to respond, quite frankly." A spokeswoman for Barton told the Dallas Morning News that he has no plans to step down.

The Twitter user who initially posted the images on Monday posted them along with a photo of a woman with the statement: “I don't like being harassed by these 2.” In a subsequent post, the anonymous Twitter user appears to describe the woman as Barton’s “mistress.”

The Twitter user did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Slate.

As the Morning News noted, Barton “may be a victim of a crime under Texas laws intended to protect against the release of intimate materials.”


More from the paper:

In 2015, Texas legislators passed a "revenge porn law" criminalizing the act of intentionally disclosing pictures or videos "depicting another person with the person's intimate parts exposed or engaged in sexual conduct" without their consent.
Anyone found in violation of the law could be charged with a class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in county jail and up to a $4,000 fine.
Shannon Edmonds, a staff attorney with the Texas District and County Attorneys Association, said the bipartisan law was passed "because it was happening so much and it didn't fall under traditional harassment crimes."
Edmonds doesn't know enough about the Barton case to know if the law applies here. But said the law was "designed to address situations exactly like this, where a person from a past relationship who has consensually taken images decides to air those naughty pictures in an effort to harm the person they're no longer in a relationship with."

Whether that statute applies to Barton would obviously depend on whether the photos were part of a consensual exchange. The law stipulates that the “person [depicted in the image must have] had a reasonable expectation that the material would remain private.”

Update 4:55 p.m.: Jana Lynne Sanchez, who is running as a Democrat in Barton’s district, told Slate that she wanted to "focus on the issues" that affect her district and that “a picture of him nude does not affect the district.”

"We need to understand how these images came to be in the public arena before [people] start attacking him," she added.

Sanchez did say, though, that Barton had shown "poor judgment," which echoed Barton's apology.

"If you’re a public official I really think you probably ought to be a little more cautious about your behavior," she said.