The actor Mischa Barton has described her horror at learning that videos of her that she says were taken with hidden cameras by her ex-boyfriend were being offered for sale to porn sites.
The former star of the teen drama series the OC has taken legal action over the scandal in an attempt to stop the footage being published online and, at a press conference this week, said she was speaking out to “protect” other women from the “pain and humiliation” of similar situations.
“I just want to say that I have been put through an incredibly hard and trying time. This is a painful situation and my absolute worst fear was realised when I learned that someone I thought I loved and trusted was filming my most intimate and private moments without my consent, with hidden cameras.
“And then I learned something even worse – that someone is trying to sell these videos and make them public,” Barton said, reading from a prepared statement.
“I came forward to fight this, not only for myself but for all the women out there. I want to protect them from the pain and humiliation that I have had to go through. No woman should have to go through this.”
She thanked her lawyer, Lisa Bloom, and her friends for helping her “throughout this horrific experience”. Barton added: “It is a very hard thing to do, but I am glad that I am finally standing up for myself,” she added.
Bloom, who sat next to the actor throughout, said she believed that making the videos without her client’s consent or knowledge was a form of domestic abuse under California law.
“There’s a name for this disgusting conduct: revenge pornography. Revenge pornography is a form of sexual assault, and it is also a crime and a civil wrong in California. And we will not stand for it.”
Bloom added: “The court agreed and gave us everything we asked for.” That included an order to Barton’s former partner, whom it declined to name, to stay away from her. “Most importantly, the court ordered that this individual and his agents ‘may not sell, distribute, give away or show any naked pictures or videos of any type of Mischa Barton’,” Bloom added.
It was confirmed that the footage was shot within the last 12 months. Data from Google show that searches for tapes depicting Mischa Barton increased markedly in the early part of this month, suggesting that rumours had begun to spread of the existence of the footage.
“We cannot know everyone who may be looking at or considering purchasing these images,” Bloom said.
She warned anyone who sought to distribute the images: “If you continue, we will find you, come after you and bring you to justice to the fullest extent possible under the civil and criminal laws.
She said that both she and her client stood for a “woman’s right to choose what images of her own body will be made public”, adding that no one had the right to exploit a woman “for revenge or financial gain”.
At the press conference, she said: “Revenge porn is a very common crime … it’s scary, even for a celebrity, to stand up like this, but it’s important for girls and women to stand up for our rights.”
Barton is not the first Hollywood actor to find herself the victim in such a case. In 2011, naked pictures of fellow actor Scarlett Johansson were published online after being stolen from her phone. In 2014, around 500 private pictures of celebrities obtained via a hack of Apple’s iCloud service were posted on a messageboard. Jennifer Lawrence, one of the victims, called that incident a sex crime. “It is a sexual violation,” she said. “It’s disgusting.”
Barton’s appeal also came after the actor Emma Watson revealed plans to take legal action after private photographs, in which she is trying on clothes during a fitting, were stolen.