Cyber rape?

American celebrity TV anchor reports J'can ex-boyfriend to local authorities

BY DEANDRA MORRISON
Observer Online reporter
morrisond@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, October 20, 2017

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A former American celebrity TV news anchor is accusing the Jamaican authorities of not doing enough to stop her Jamaican ex-lover from subjecting her to what she described as “cyber rape”.

Darieth Chisolm has also said that her former boyfriend, who was deported from the United States some time ago, has threatened her with violence.

“He told me he would shoot me in my head and stab me in my heart if I did not return to him in Jamaica,” Chisolm told the Jamaica Observer.

According to the former NBC News anchor, she ended a relationship with the man in April 2016. On January 1 this year he began sending her threats, which gradually intensified before he started sending her nude pictures he took of her without her knowledge while she was living with him in Jamaica.

“He told me if I didn't come back he would continue to release nude pictures of me on the Internet,” Chisolm said.

In response, she went to court in the US and got a temporary injunction against harassment, which she arranged to be delivered to him in Jamaica.

However, the injunction did not stop him and he persisted, she said, adding that he then released nude pictures and videos of her on a website.

“When he put up the website he e-mailed me and texted me the link to the website, saying that I should go look and see what he had done,” Chisolm told the Observer.

She added that he updated the website with pictures daily.

“I begged him to take it down. He was threatening to destroy my credibility and celebrity with this,” she related.

Chisolm said she had taken steps to press charges against him in the US; however, she was advised that the authorities could not extradite him to face the charges because of jurisdiction barriers.

At that point, Chisolm said she reached out to Jamaican law enforcement, hoping for some form of action under Jamaica's Cybercrimes Act, which imposes stiff financial and prison penalties on individuals found guilty of using a computer wilfully with intent to send to another person any data (whether in the form of a message or otherwise) that is obscene, constitutes a threat, or is menacing in nature.

Offenders can be fined as much as $5 million or sent to prison for up 10 years.

Chisolm believes that, despite the correlation between the offences in the Act and the cyber attacks she has reported, the authorities in Jamaica are not doing their best to help her.

Chisolm said she was told that she needed to mail her laptop and phone to Jamaica as well as come to the island to give a statement.

“I'm unable to do that because I need my devices to work, and the photos and videos are on his devices,” she argued.

She said that she had sent the local authorities pictures and videos that were sent to her by her ex-boyfriend.

“I fully cooperated by sending them all the information he sent to me as well as all the police records and court records from the US,” she said.

When the Observer contacted Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Andrea Martin-Swaby, who heads the Office of the DPP's Cyber Crime and Digital Forensics Unit, she admitted that a request was made for Chisolm to come to Jamaica to make a formal report, give a witness statement, and to surrender the digital device for analysis.

However, Martin-Swaby said that, to date, it is the understanding of the Office of the DPP that no written statement has been submitted to the Jamaican police, which satisfies the protocols governing the initiation of criminal proceedings.

She said the Jamaica Constabulary Force sought her unit's guidance regarding the manner in which they ought to proceed in the absence of a letter of request under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty or a request pursuant to the extradition regime.

“We were advised that the written document provided by the complainant consisted of a notorised petition filed in a civil court in the United States of America. Our office considered whether this would be sufficient upon which to lay criminal charges against an individual in Jamaica,” Martin-Swaby said.

“The civil documents filed in another jurisdiction are not utilised in our jurisdiction as the basis for the arrest and charge of a person for a criminal offence in Jamaica,” Martin-Swaby explained.

“In a matter of this nature, which involves a potential allegation of malicious communication, and in light of the fact that Jamaica is being asked to initiate criminal proceedings, the Jamaica Constabulary Force was encouraged to follow the appropriate procedures. This recommendation was made as the criminal arena differs from the civil arena, and the liberty of the subject is involved,” the prosecutor explained further.

“The standard of proof is higher, and a conviction for the offence of malicious communication attracts a term of imprisonment. As such, the right to due process must be adhered to in the initiation of proceedings. It must be noted with emphasis that the offence of malicious communication is most reprehensible and is criminalised under the Cybercrimes Act 2015; however, to initiate such proceedings, the Jamaica Constabulary Force is encouraged to adhere to the proper procedures and guidelines,” Martin-Swaby added.

She said, too, that the allegation made regarding the creation of a website was explored in detail.

“The ODPP conducted a thorough search of the Internet and there was no evidence of any websites containing any malicious data. For this reason, it became important to obtain the devices which contained any digital footprint of this data to substantiate the allegations,” the prosecutor told the Observer.

Martin-Swaby said that the Office of the DPP's recommendations of the appropriate steps to be taken in this matter were forwarded to Chisolm and her attorney in the US.

But Chisolm argued that this system is archaic and she does not understand why in an age of modern technology she has to fly to Jamaica to give her statement.

“They want me to come to Jamaica to do an interview. That's not something that I can afford to do, but I'm willing to do that over the phone and Skype,” she told the Observer.

“I will come to Jamaica once I know that a full hearing is under way and he is detained. I am afraid for my life since he threatened to kill me,” she said, adding that the experience has affected her personally and professionally.

“Personally, I spiralled into months of silence, shame, depression, and most importantly, fear. He called some of my clients and business associates; it left me publicly embarrassed and cost me some working contracts,” she lamented.

Chisolm said she wants justice, not only for herself, but for others who may have gone through a similar ordeal.

As such, she has put her pain to paper and is directing a documentary called 50 Shades of Silence.

“The documentary is about this case and the fact that I've not been able to get much assistance from the Jamaican authorities, and also about revenge porn, cyberbullying and cyberstalking as well as others who have been through the same thing,” she said.

“I want the Jamaican Government to take revenge porn and cybercrime seriously,” she added adamantly.

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