A former New York weatherman who alleged in September that he was fired after someone sent nude webcam photos of him to his employer is speaking out against online “predators” following months of silence.
In a video posted to Instagram this week, former Spectrum News NY1 meteorologist Erick Adame said the headlines surrounding his departure from NY1 gave “sexual predators the idea that I wanted to be exploited and humiliated.” Adame alleged these online predators are trying to obtain and potentially even make money off of his private adult content that was recorded without his knowledge.
“A lot of these people are just out there searching the internet trying to find whatever pictures or videos of me that they can possibly find,” Adame said. “I never wanted any of those images or videos to ever be recorded or kept or saved or shared in any way, and I don’t want any kind of this attention that I’ve been receiving. What I do want is for these people to leave me alone.”
In a message shared with NBC News Tuesday evening, Adame said dealing with the fallout of “having explicit images and videos of me being shared without my consent, and a very public termination have been the hardest experiences of my life.” But he said he also wanted to speak out because “there’s a bigger story out there than me on webcam”: Adame said “people are being exploited like this every single day” by having their private webcam sessions secretly recorded and distributed without their consent.
In fact, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center issued a warning in September 2021 about a “large increase in the number of sextortion complaints.” Sextortion, it says, is when someone “threatens to distribute your private and sensitive material if their demands are not met.” The bureau said it received over 16,000 such complaints in the first seven months of 2021, with nearly half of the alleged victims in the 20 to 39 age group. Just last month, the FBI issued a separate warning about sextortion of minors, particularly teen boys. (While Adame said his images were recorded and distributed without his consent, he said he was not extorted.)
Adame, an openly gay meteorologist who had worked at Spectrum News NY1 since 2007, admitted in an Instagram post shared in September that he had secretly appeared and performed on an adult video website for other men while he was employed at the TV station. He said the actions were “100% consensual” on the part of everyone involved, apart from the incident in which someone took screenshots of him without his knowledge and then sent those images to his employer and his mother.
A Spectrum News source told NBC News at the time that company management worked with Adame for months after the webcam incident and before his departure. The source, who didn’t confirm whether Adame was fired, said Adame’s departure had nothing to do with his sexual orientation and maintained that the company fosters an inclusive environment. The source said the situation is more complicated than it appears but wouldn’t provide further details, citing privacy concerns.
Spectrum News declined NBC News’ request for comment following Adame’s latest remarks.
In this week’s video, Adame said, “I wish that people would focus more on the fact that these videos exist when they shouldn’t exist, as opposed to the salacious details.”
The Emmy-nominated meteorologist said he had previously assumed that once he closed his laptop, that anything that had happened on his webcam would “only exist in memory.” Instead, he said, his webcam sessions were recorded “by people and then sometimes these bots.”
“There are these websites out there that are recording you or taking screenshots of you while you’re on camera without you even knowing, and many of these websites, they’re hosted overseas in other countries, and they don’t comply with any of the U.S. laws here. You request to have it taken down, and they just ignore you,” he said.
According to a petition for subpoena filed with the Supreme Court of the State of New York, New York County, by Adame and his lawyer in September, an anonymous user of a website owned by Unit 4 Media Ltd. took nude screenshots of Adame without his permission and sent them to his employer and to his mother in December 2021, “with the intent of harassing, annoying, or alarming” him. After he learned the photos were taken, Adame asked Unit 4 Media for more information about the user who shared them. The company indicated that it could help identify the user but said it would only do so with a subpoena, the document says.
Lawrence Walters, a lawyer for the company, told NBC News at the time that Unit 4 Media’s policy is to comply with lawfully issued subpoenas and provide relevant user data when legally required.
“Capturing and disseminating user content without consent violates our client’s Terms of Service and forum Rules which may result in a suspension or banning of the offending accounts,” Walters wrote in a September email.
The petition for a subpoena asks the court to compel the company to share with Adame any documents or communications that could help identify the user, whom Adame accused of violating state revenge porn law.
The status of the September petition is currently unclear. Adame and his attorney, Jeremy Klausner, declined to comment on the petition or whether they would pursue any additional legal action. Neither Unit 4 Media nor Walters responded to a request for comment.
It is also unclear if the “pictures and videos” Adame refers to in his latest Instagram post are the same images referred to in the petition or additional images.
Toward the end of his latest video, Adame shared a message with his followers.
“The internet is an extremely dangerous place, and anything that you put out there on the internet is going to be out there forever, and there are sexual predators that are ready to exploit you, like they have been doing to me,” he said.
Adame told NBC News that he still hasn’t found work since his departure from NY1. He said being a meteorologist had been a “dream job” that he had longed for since second grade.
“So how has this impacted me professionally and personally? It’s been devastating,” he said.