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Is Michael Clasen first-person charged under new revenge porn law?

Michael Clasen. Additional images and more below.
Michael Clasen. Additional images and more below.

There are often advantages to doing something before anyone else -- but being first isn't always a good thing. Just ask Michael Clasen, who appears to be the first person charged under Colorado's new revenge porn law owing to "intimate" images of an ex-girlfriend he allegedly posted on the day the measure went into effect. And that's not the only accusation against him.

See also: Revenge porn bill would impose $10,000 fine for posting private photos of "intimate parts"

Revenge porn got one of its most prominent Colorado close-ups in February 2013, when the mainstream media discovered Craig Brittan, a Colorado Springs man behind Is Anybody Down?, a website that published "involuntary" nude photos -- meaning intimate images typically intended to embarrass ex-lovers.

The Google Plus photo for the now-defunct Is Anybody Down? website.
The Google Plus photo for the now-defunct Is Anybody Down? website.

As we've reported, Brittain's now-defunct site included scads of photos posted without the pictured individuals' permission plus a link to a service called Takedown Hammer, which offered to facilitate removal of said images for a mere $250. While Brittain tried to distance himself from the Hammer, it appears that he was on the receiving end of at least some, if not most or all, of these funds -- a way to make money from online victims as they were coming and going.

In interviews with CBS4's Brian Maass, Brittain initially claimed to be proud of the site -- but as the heat increased, he backed down. He eventually pulled Is Anybody Down? off the web and announced that he was going to become an investigator.

Nonetheless, the revenge porn phenomenon remains very much a going concern. As such, legislators around the country introduced bills intended to strengthen penalties against it, including representatives Amy Stephens and Dan Pabon. She's a Republican and he's a Democrat, but an antipathy for online humiliation proved to have bipartisan appeal: Their bill, which called for fines of up to $10,000 for offenders, passed easily earlier this year and went into effect on July 1.

The following weekend, Clasen came to the attention of authorities -- but not initially because of anything he did online.

On July 5, according to an arrest affidavit seen below, a Denver police officer responded to a complaint from an unnamed woman identified as Clasen's former girlfriend. Prior to that date, the report says, three of the woman's tires had been slashed and screws were placed under the fourth in an apparent effort to flatten it, too. Afterward, the woman installed a motion detector near the vehicle in an effort to catch the scofflaw in the act, but its wire was cut.

The alleged harassment escalated to the point where the woman moved in with other family members in an effort to escape it. Shortly thereafter, a friend who'd been asked to keep an eye on the family home told cops he found a strip of nails placed behind a vehicle in the driveway. He said he subsequently saw Clasen drive by, split and then return a short time later before speeding off again. Upon his departure, the friend found a new strip of nails in the driveway.

A screen capture from Is Anybody Down?
A screen capture from Is Anybody Down?

Nothing in the affidavit mentions revenge porn, but the attached charging documents do. In addition to counts of criminal mischief, stalking and possession of an illegal weapon (he's accused of having a "gravity knife"), Clasen faces an allegation of "posting image for harassment." The charge reads:

On or about July 1, 2014, MICHAEL P. CLASEN, a person 18 years of age or older, with the intent to harass and inflict serious emotion distress upon [deleted], unlawfully posted or distributed through the use of social media or any website, a photograph, video, or other image displaying the private intimate parts of [deleted], an identified or identifiable person eighteen years of age or older, without the depicted person's consent, or when the actor knew or should have known that the depicted person had a reasonable expectation that the image would remain private, and the conduct resulted in serious emotion distress to the depicted person.

At last report, Clasen was in Denver jail on a $50,000 bond. He's due in court today to formally face the charges against him -- and if he is indeed the first to be accused of revenge porn in Colorado, we're betting it's a mark he'd rather not have set.

Here's a full-size version of Clasen's booking photo, followed by the arrest affidavit and charging documents.

Michael Clasen.
Michael Clasen.

Michael Clasen Affidavit and Charging Documents

Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.