A Miami-Dade corrections officer has been relieved of duty after he was arrested for allegedly posting explicit images of his ex-wife on Twitter.
Teddy Joseph, 39, was charged last week under Florida’s “revenge porn” law, which makes cyber sexual harassment a first-degree misdemeanor. The law was first passed in 2015 aimed at combating the proliferation of people posting sexual photos and video of their ex partners.
The law, however, has been used sparingly across Florida. Lawmakers this month did pass a law criminalizing “deep fakes,” images doctored to appear as pornographic ones, and the making the theft of explicit images a felony. The law — which is awaiting the signature of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis — also provides for a victim of revenge porn to go to civil court and get damages of up to $10,000, up from $5,000.
Joseph and his ex-wife are both corrections officers. According to an arrest report, Joseph created a Twitter account in June 2019, when the two were still married, posting nude photos and videos of the woman “as well as other unknown women.”
“The victim did not give consent, nor did she have knowledge of the Twitter account,” the arrest report said. It was not until October 2020 that the woman found out about the images were also “circulating through the MDCR workplace, via text and Twitter.”
When she confronted Joseph, he “admitted to creating the account, however, claimed that his intent was to show others how good she looked.” But in a text message with another witness, he uploaded the nude photos and videos on Twitter “for revenge,” the report said. After his arrest, he admitted to the crime, according to Miami-Dade police.
Joseph, who’d been assigned to Miami-Dade’s Pre-Trial Detention Center, could not be reached for comment. Court records do not list a defense attorney.
In Joseph’s case, prosecutors and Miami-Dade police detectives conducted a lengthy investigation that included a search warrant on his home.
Still, victim advocates say, revenge-porn prosecutions remain difficult to make despite the 2015 law.
Proving the culprit’s intent to harm the victim under the law remains the biggest hurdle, many law-enforcement departments across Florida still do not take victim complaints seriously, and there is often confusion over which police agencies have jurisdiction, said Miami attorney Elisa D’Amico, of Miami, a victims advocate.
And the crime still remains a misdemeanor, which prohibits some police agencies in some jurisdictions from getting crucial search warrants to get digital evidence. “As a misdemeanor, it’s like trying to bite into a candy apple without teeth,” said D’Amico, an advisory committee member of the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative. “The law needs to be a felony to fully serve — to protect the victims of cyber sex crimes.”