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Is Michael Clasen first-person charged under new revenge porn law?

Categories: Colorado Crimes

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Michael Clasen. Additional images and more below.
There are often advantages to doing something before anyone else -- but being first isn't always a good thing. Just ask Michael Clasen, who appears to be the first person charged under Colorado's new revenge porn law owing to "intimate" images of an ex-girlfriend he allegedly posted on the day the measure went into effect. And that's not the only accusation against him.

See also: Revenge porn bill would impose $10,000 fine for posting private photos of "intimate parts"

Revenge porn got one of its most prominent Colorado close-ups in February 2013, when the mainstream media discovered Craig Brittan, a Colorado Springs man behind Is Anybody Down?, a website that published "involuntary" nude photos -- meaning intimate images typically intended to embarrass ex-lovers.

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The Google Plus photo for the now-defunct Is Anybody Down? website.
As we've reported, Brittain's now-defunct site included scads of photos posted without the pictured individuals' permission plus a link to a service called Takedown Hammer, which offered to facilitate removal of said images for a mere $250. While Brittain tried to distance himself from the Hammer, it appears that he was on the receiving end of at least some, if not most or all, of these funds -- a way to make money from online victims as they were coming and going.

In interviews with CBS4's Brian Maass, Brittain initially claimed to be proud of the site -- but as the heat increased, he backed down. He eventually pulled Is Anybody Down? off the web and announced that he was going to become an investigator.

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Representative Dan Pabon.
Nonetheless, the revenge porn phenomenon remains very much a going concern. As such, legislators around the country introduced bills intended to strengthen penalties against it, including representatives Amy Stephens and Dan Pabon. She's a Republican and he's a Democrat, but an antipathy for online humiliation proved to have bipartisan appeal: Their bill, which called for fines of up to $10,000 for offenders, passed easily earlier this year and went into effect on July 1.

The following weekend, Clasen came to the attention of authorities -- but not initially because of anything he did online.

On July 5, according to an arrest affidavit seen below, a Denver police officer responded to a complaint from an unnamed woman identified as Clasen's former girlfriend. Prior to that date, the report says, three of the woman's tires had been slashed and screws were placed under the fourth in an apparent effort to flatten it, too. Afterward, the woman installed a motion detector near the vehicle in an effort to catch the scofflaw in the act, but its wire was cut.

The alleged harassment escalated to the point where the woman moved in with other family members in an effort to escape it. Shortly thereafter, a friend who'd been asked to keep an eye on the family home told cops he found a strip of nails placed behind a vehicle in the driveway. He said he subsequently saw Clasen drive by, split and then return a short time later before speeding off again. Upon his departure, the friend found a new strip of nails in the driveway.

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A screen capture from Is Anybody Down?
Nothing in the affidavit mentions revenge porn, but the attached charging documents do. In addition to counts of criminal mischief, stalking and possession of an illegal weapon (he's accused of having a "gravity knife"), Clasen faces an allegation of "posting image for harassment." The charge reads:
On or about July 1, 2014, MICHAEL P. CLASEN, a person 18 years of age or older, with the intent to harass and inflict serious emotion distress upon [deleted], unlawfully posted or distributed through the use of social media or any website, a photograph, video, or other image displaying the private intimate parts of [deleted], an identified or identifiable person eighteen years of age or older, without the depicted person's consent, or when the actor knew or should have known that the depicted person had a reasonable expectation that the image would remain private, and the conduct resulted in serious emotion distress to the depicted person.
At last report, Clasen was in Denver jail on a $50,000 bond. He's due in court today to formally face the charges against him -- and if he is indeed the first to be accused of revenge porn in Colorado, we're betting it's a mark he'd rather not have set.

Here's a full-size version of Clasen's booking photo, followed by the arrest affidavit and charging documents.

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Michael Clasen.

Michael Clasen Affidavit and Charging Documents

Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.


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39 comments
Kenny Gildow
Kenny Gildow

He should have just been greatfull a women actually let him see her naked .. what a D bag putting it on the net .. not cool

Doc Fesmire
Doc Fesmire

I actually thought the picture was the girl. True story.

Doc Fesmire
Doc Fesmire

His girlfriend breaks up with him, and this sissy can't handle it so he humiliates the girl he really wanted to be with online?? And then he says WE BOTH could have acted better? No dude. You're a pussy. Sack up and deal with it. She doesn't want to be with you...can't imagine why...haha. We. Hahaha maybe if you weren't such a sissy you'd have a pair big enough to handle a widdle bweakup. Pathetic, and got what he deserves. Be a man. Respect a woman in every way or date men instead.

RecallHickenlooper
RecallHickenlooper

I disagree with the tactic of charging someone $250 to take down a picture. This is really a douche-bag thing to do. As for his freedom to do it? I say the Constitution trumps a chicks very bad decision to take sex pics with a loser.

Charlie Goldberg
Charlie Goldberg

Sure Emma , he is most definitely a villain but there is a larger issue at play here. Precedents are being set for the further control and legislation of what people are allowed to do online. The day won't be too far off that posting monologue videos about socially unacceptable ideas on YouTube will be a crime if nobody looks past the villain making and addresses the larger legislative issues.

SallyMa
SallyMa

Before breaking up with my boyfriend, I used a software called Porn Terminator to scan and delete all porn images that we took.  Better safe than sorry.  Porn Terminator can be downloaded from:


http://www.pornterminator.com

Emma Beasley
Emma Beasley

Wow some people have jobs. Calm down when someone doesn't reply to you for a few hours. Jesus. Suggesting caution doesn't do anything other than suggest hindsight 20/20. It's pointless and rude in this situation. We should be cautious, but it is no ones fault but the person who posted of revenge porn leaks.

muhutdafuga
muhutdafuga topcommenter

It will be interesting to see how this law stacks up against the 1st amendment. 

Noelle Brownson
Noelle Brownson

I've never made a video of myself having sex. The biggest reason why? I wouldn't ever want anyone to see it. It's that simple. Do I think this clown is a total nasty creep? Yes. But if you want privacy folks, then take the basic steps. Lots of fun creative ways to mix it up without video/pics.

Charlie Goldberg
Charlie Goldberg

Yeah, I apologize for the tone of that first post. Sarcasm keeps my soul alive. Fuck violent people, I was only looking at the larger privacy issues.

Brittni Steppen Wolff
Brittni Steppen Wolff

I do not disagree with what you're saying. What I disagreed on was the (most likely unintentional) victim-blaming in your comment. Using caution is always a good thing, but saying to not participate in those videos if you don't want it shared publicly is wrong. That's like saying if someone doesn't want to be bullied, then teach the victim to not get bullied, by either learning to defend themselves (which I still think everyone should take self-defense classes) or to not bring it upon themselves (referring to a story of a boy who had a My Little Pony backpack and his school told him he couldn't use it anymore because he was getting bullied because of it), instead of teaching the bully to not bully/be a little asshole. Or saying if someone doesn't want to be raped then they shouldn't be in that situation where there is a possibility to be raped or they should wear less provocative clothing, instead of raising children to know that it's not okay to force yourself upon someone else, no matter gender, attire, location, etc. Just because someone is in a sex video, does not mean it's okay to share it. No matter what.

Brent Thiesen
Brent Thiesen

Serves her right for dating that Chester Molester faced motherfucker in the first place

Charlie Goldberg
Charlie Goldberg

And apparently, not a single fuck was given that day. Let's get some constructive discussion going about this, something more than just blind rage.

Charlie Goldberg
Charlie Goldberg

If you step back and look at it, it's an issue that extends far beyond revenge porn. The NSA tries to harvest as much of our digital activity as possible. That should be illegal because some not-so-honest NSA'er could be sharing private images gathered to the public...

Charlie Goldberg
Charlie Goldberg

I suggest caution... Almost all of us are carrying high resolution video and still cameras on the little phones in our pockets. We need to be aware of the pervasiveness of recording devices at all times. I'm not trying to argue that people should be doing revenge porn posts or whatever, just that privacy is under attack and we have to be vigilant to retain what little shreds of it we have in the digital realm...

Charlie Goldberg
Charlie Goldberg

So much anger. Perhaps you should take a moment to read replies to the above comment. Perhaps my not so soft as butter delivery with that comment was too easily misunderstood.

Charlie Goldberg
Charlie Goldberg

And that caution extends faaar outside of making erotic videos or whatever. Privacy in general is under attack and barely exists in the digital realm as it is...

Charlie Goldberg
Charlie Goldberg

I don't do that though... But I understand the frustration around all of it. I'm just trying to suggest caution with what one does on camera in this easy-share media time we now live in...

Emma Beasley
Emma Beasley

Uh no. How about assholes don't post it online, instead? That's like saying don't wear short skirts if you don't want to be raped.

Brittni Steppen Wolff
Brittni Steppen Wolff

For real though, only douche bags and people with serious issues would publicly post a sex video they made with their partner for revenge. Just because it was made, does not give anyone the right to publicly share it without consent from both people involved. Welcome to Being a Decent Human Being 101....

Charlie Goldberg
Charlie Goldberg

For real though, don't make porn with your partner if you're afraid of others seeing it. Welcome to 2014...

Eleonora
Eleonora

@SallyMa I think it's better to  keep your clothes on  when cameras are near.. This way you have nothing to worry about if you break up!

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