Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says the revenge porn campaign targeting Rep. Katie Hill is a ‘major crime’ that wouldn’t happen to a male member of Congress

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez decried the publication of nude photos of Rep. Katie Hill, who is resigning from Congress this week after being targeted by a revenge porn campaign and admitting to having a consensual relationship with a campaign staffer.

Hill has accused her estranged husband and right-wing political operatives of conspiring to "destroy" her by releasing nude photos of her without her consent. Her fellow freshman colleague called the campaign against Hill "a major crime" and said it revealed a sexist double-standard.

"This doesn't happen to male members in the same way — revenge porn in this respect. It's horrific," Ocasio-Cortez told Politico.

She argued that Hill's experience will "of course" discourage some younger women from going into politics.

"I don't think we're really talking about how targeted and serious this is," Ocasio-Cortez went on. "We're talking about a major crime … being committed against her."

On October 18, the right-wing news site RedState published a story alleging that Hill was involved in a two-year consensual sexual relationship with a campaign staffer and her husband, Kenny Heslep, who filed for divorce in July.

RedState published screenshots of what appeared to be text messages between Heslep and the staffer, as well as a nude photo of Hill brushing the staffer's hair. The website also accused Hill of having a yearlong relationship with her legislative director, Graham Kelly.

On October 24, The Daily Mail also published nude photos of Hill with the campaign aide.

Hill, 32, said the nude photos were published without her consent and suggested that her husband was behind their publication.

"I am going through a divorce from an abusive husband who seems determined to try to humiliate me," she wrote in the letter, calling the publication of the photos a "coordinated effort to try to destroy me and the people close to me."

Hill has threatened to sue the Daily Mail, alleging that it published nonconsensual pornography, known as revenge porn, which is illegal in California. Hill also accused the tabloid of defaming her by falsely reporting that her tattoo — which appears to be some form of an Iron Cross — is a "Nazi-era" image.

Notably, Republican Rep. Joe Barton was also targeted with what he said was revenge porn in 2017 after his sexually explicit text messages and a nude photo were published by an anonymous Twitter account. Barton didn't resign, but he declined to run for re-election.

The House Ethics Committee last week announced an investigation into allegations that Hill also had a sexual relationship with her legislative director. Hill has vigorously denied that claim.

Hill announced her resignation from Congress on Sunday. She released a video statement this week and is scheduled to deliver a final speech on the House floor on Thursday afternoon.

She said her resignation was motivated in part by a desire to not "live fearful of what might come next and how much it will hurt." Hill said she'd fight to ensure that other women aren't targeted by revenge porn in the future.

"This is what needs to happen so that the good people who supported me will no longer be subjected to the pain inflicted by my abusive husband and the brutality of hateful political operatives who seem to happily provide a platform to a monster who is driving a smear campaign built around cyber exploitation," Hill wrote.

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