Ex-staffers charged with sending nude photos of Congress member

WASHINGTON (CBS/AP) — Two former employees of the U.S. House of Representatives were charged Thursday in connection with the distribution of nude videos and photos of a Congress member and her spouse.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, 35-year-old Juan R. McCullum, of Washington, D.C., was indicted on two counts of cyberstalking. McCullum’s former coworker, 45-year-old Dorene Browne-Louis, of Upper Marlboro, Maryland, was charged with two counts of obstruction of justice.

The statement does not give the name of the member they worked for, but Del. Stacey Plaskett previously acknowledged that private images of her had been stolen and leaked on the internet. An online service that tracks congressional employment also lists that both McCullum and Browne-Louis worked for the delegate during a time frame that matches information given by prosecutors.

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Plaskett is in her second term in the non-voting position. A spokesman declined immediate comment.

The indictment alleges McCullum offered to repair the Congress member’s password-protected iPhone by taking it to a local Apple store in March 2016. But he was not given permission to use the cell phone, which contained private, nude photos and videos.

McCullum worked in the House member’s office in Washington, D.C. from April 2015 to June 2016. Browne-Louis worked in the same office from January 2015 until April 2016. Federal prosecutors say McCullum created Hotmail and Facebook accounts, using a fake name, to share the images with other members of Congress.

In early July 2016, after McCullum left Plaskett’s office, he created an email account with a fictitious name and sent at least 10 emails to politicians, members of the media and others in which he attached one or more of the nude images or video, the document alleges. He also allegedly created a Facebook account and posted several of the nude images and videos and “friended” people Plaskett knew, including politicians competing with her in a primary election.

Browne-Louis, 45, for her part, is not accused of distributing the images, but she allegedly made false and misleading statements to law enforcement officers during an investigation of the images’ distribution, telling officers that she did not know that McCullum was involved in the images’ distribution. She also allegedly provided false, incomplete and misleading testimony before a federal grand jury. Her false and misleading statements allegedly included that she did not know that McCullum “wanted to seek revenge” against Plaskett. The court document did not make clear why McCullum might be seeking revenge.

Browne-Louis made her first court appearance on Thursday. She pleaded not guilty to the charges and was released on personal recognizance. Browne-Louis is expected to appear in court again on Wednesday. If convicted as charged, she faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, along with potential fines.

McCullum’s court appearance has not yet been scheduled.

The case remains under investigation by U.S. Capitol Police.

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