Ex-Congress Staffers Charged With Distributing Delegate's Explicit Photos

Iamge: Stacey Plaskett
Stacey Plaskett is photographed in her Cannon Building office on April 02, 2015.Tom Williams / CQ-Roll Call,Inc. file

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By Andrew Rafferty

WASHINGTON — Two former staff members of a delegate to Congress from the U.S. Virgin Islands were indicted Thursday for allegedly circulating nude pictures and videos of her and her husband that authorities said were stolen from the delegate’s cell phone.

Juan R. McCullum, a former staffer for the delegate, distributed photos of the couple on social media in July 2016, according to the federal indictment. McCullum also sent a text alerting another then-staffer, Dorene Browne-Louis, of what he had done, as well as sending her several of the pictures and videos, according to prosecutors.

The federal indictment refers to the victim as only “Delegate S.P.” But Democrat Stacey Plaskett, a non-voting delegate to the House of Representatives from the U.S. Virgin Islands, issued a statement Thursday evening thanking law enforcement and saying she was the victim of "egregious acts."

"Last year, my privacy was invaded, which was followed by an organized smear campaign and defamatory press reports concerning both me and my family," Plaskett said. "I was informed today that preliminary arrests had been made of individuals who were involved in those illegal acts. I am deeply grateful to the Capitol Police and U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia for their thorough and in depth investigating the crimes committed against me, and those who I love."

Plaskett said in her statement that the investigation was continuing and she could not comment further.

The case began when McCullum offered to assist his boss in repairing her iPhone in March last year, according to the indictment. She provided McCullum with the phone’s password and he took it to a Washington, D.C., Apple store. Authorities say the device contained the images and video that would later leak online.

McCullum stopped working for Plaskett in June 2016, a month before the explicit images appeared online.

Prosecutors allege McCullum created a Hotmail email account under a fake name and sent at least 11 messages containing the images to politicians, reporters and other people familiar with the delegate. He then created a Facebook account using the same bogus identity and uploaded the content, even “friending” the Plaskett's challengers in her upcoming primary contest.

A forensic investigation by the authorities found Browne-Louis had deleted multiple texts and emails from McCullum revealing the phony accounts, according to the indictment.

McCullum faces two counts of cyberstalking and Browne-Louis faces two counts of obstruction of justice. Browne-Louis has pleaded not guilty, while McCullum has yet to appear in court.

Alex Moe contributed.