Revenge Porn Advocate Holly Jacobs "Ruined My Life," Ex Says

Ryan Seay's life was turned upside down by a phone call. It was late October of last year, and the sound engineer was celebrating his 28th birthday in Sarasota. Exhausted after a day at the Ringling Museum of Art, Seay and his girlfriend fell asleep on their lumpy hotel room mattress. Then the plastic phone started shrieking.

"I'm sorry to disturb you, sir, but there is something wrong with the heat in your shower," the woman from the front desk chirped. Still groggy from his nap, Seay said not to worry about it. "It could be affecting the other rooms," the woman insisted. "We're sending someone up."

But when Seay opened the door moments later, it wasn't maintenance entering his room. It was the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.

"They were clever about it," Seay says. "I'll give them that."

Sheriff's deputies served Seay with a notice to appear in court, and soon he was facing criminal charges. Four years after they had broken up, Seay's ex-girlfriend, Holly Jacobs, claimed a disgruntled Seay had spread hundreds of explicit pictures and videos of her on the internet.

Jacobs founded a nonprofit and quickly became the international face of what she called "cyber rape" or "revenge porn." The pretty, brunet 30-year-old appeared on CNN, NBC, and Fox News and penned op-ed pieces in newspapers as far-flung as England and Australia about her ordeal. At her urging, Cali­fornia recently passed a law against revenge porn. Nearly a dozen other states including New York have moved to follow its lead.

But the straightforward story of sex and revenge got much more complicated October 3. That's when Hillsborough County prosecutors dropped all the charges against Seay because of a lack of evidence. Seay is now speaking publicly for the first time. He says Jacobs has launched a World Wide Web witch-hunt that could ensnare other innocent men like him.

"She has been bullying me for the past year," he says. "Holly is guilty of the exact same thing that she is accusing me of: taking these pics, splashing them internationally, and attaching my name to them. She has ruined my life."

But Jacobs says Seay is no victim, and the failed criminal case against him only proves her point that the nation needs to crack down on revenge porn. "Honestly, he's guilty," she says. "I just need stronger laws on the books to prove it."

There is little the two agree on. Seay and Jacobs — then named Holli Thometz — met at Hillsborough High School in Tampa. They began dating in 2005 after Jacobs returned from college. When Jacobs moved to Florida International University in Miami for graduate school, they dated long-distance, often swapping sexual photos and videos on the internet.

But the relationship was on-and-off. "We would date for three or four weeks exclusively; then we'd see someone else," Seay says. "But we always stupidly came back to what was comfortable to us."

They finally broke up for good in late 2008 when Jacobs began dating a German guy, Seay says, adding the split was amicable. "There was no problem at all," he says. "We talked on the phone once a week. I gave her relationship advice."

Everything changed New Year's Day 2009, however. That's when a friend called to say Jacobs' Facebook account had been hacked. "You need to get on Facebook right away," the friend told her. "Somebody has changed your profile pic to a nude photo of you."

But when Jacobs called Seay, he claimed that he too had been victimized. "He was the only one with those photos," Jacobs says. "I think he was pretending to go through the same thing so we would reconnect again on some level."

Seay tells another story. His email account had also been hacked, he says, and he wondered if it wasn't one of Jacobs' other flings. "At no point during that conversation did she accuse me of being the one to release these pictures," he says. "In fact, she even apologized to me that I was wrapped up in it." He says they remained in touch for several months until Jacobs suddenly stopped answering his emails. Then, in August, Seay received a letter from Jacobs' attorney saying that more nude pictures of her had appeared on several websites and demanding that Seay take them down.

Seay insists he never posted the pics on the internet but agreed to try to get them removed anyway. Each success, however, just made it appear as if he were the one behind the revenge porn.

("If that's what he truly did, then it was a stupid move," Jacobs says. "His defense... is about as convincing as somebody in grade school saying that their dog ate their homework.")

When more material popped up months later — including a video titled "Masturbation 201 by Professor Holli Thometz" that was sent to her fellow students at FIU — Jacobs decided to file an injunction against her ex, which was soon dismissed, and the revenge porn continued appearing online. Jacobs then approached Miami-Dade detectives. But they declined to investigate her complaint because she had originally agreed to take the photos.

1
 
2
 
All
 
Next Page »
 
My Voice Nation Help
4 comments
eeoop
eeoop

Unfortunately with digital images there's always a chance someone will send it around. It's one thing if it was on a Polaroid (but nowadays that can be scanned and posted too!)

JustSayin
JustSayin

So how about just not putting nude video of yourself out there in the first place......

Anonymous
Anonymous

@JustSayin How about not being a total creep and placing responsibility with the person who distributed the content without her consent?

 
Loading...