Disgraced former congresswoman Katie Hill has lost a lawsuit against DailyMail.com over revealing details of her three-way affair with a campaign staffer.
In a judgement handed down on Wednesday, Los Angeles judge Yolanda Orozco threw out Hill’s case, finding that the stories about her were of ‘compelling public interest’ and protected by the First Amendment.
In her ruling, the judge said arguments by Hill’s lawyers were ‘unpersuasive’, and that DailyMail.com’s stories about the former congresswoman were in the ‘public interest’ because they detailed her alleged affair with a campaign staffer, pictured her using drugs that were illegal at the time, and exposed her iron cross crotch tattoo which ‘resembled a white supremacy symbol that had become an issue during her congressional campaign.’
A Los Angeles judge on Wednesday ruled against former Rep. Katie Hill (pictured arriving at the Capitol in 2019) in her lawsuit against DailyMail.com
Hill, 33, resigned from Congress in 2019 after shocking nude photos emerged of the politician cavorting with Morgan Desjardins, who was then a 22-year-old junior staffer, (pictured all together) and an ethics probe was launched into her alleged affair with another aide
Texts and photographs obtained and published by DailyMail.com in October 2019 showed Hill had been in a throuple with her then-husband Kenny Heslep and 22-year-old staffer Morgan Desjardins.
Desjardins began a three-way relationship with the married couple shortly after she started working for Hill in 2017. The affair broke down in the summer of 2019 when Hill told both her husband and her lover that she wanted to focus on her work.
The congresswoman, 33, was pictured naked brushing Desjardin’s hair during a trip the three took to Alaska – allegedly funded using campaign finances.
The photos also included a picture of Hill naked holding a bong emblazoned with a skull and crossbones, and with a tattoo of an Iron Cross resembling a Nazi symbol on her bikini line.
The revelations prompted investigations by the House Ethics Committee and the Federal Election Commission, and Hill resigned from congress days later and issued a public apology.
Hill sued her ex-husband Kenneth Heslep in December, accusing him of launching a ‘scorched earth attack’ on her after she broke up with him by distributing nude photos to DailyMail.com and RedState, a conservative media site
The pair (pictured at their wedding) quietly settled their divorce in October 2020, a year after Hill was forced to resign after it was revealed she had a ‘throuple’ with a campaign staffer
In December last year DailyMail.com published allegations by Hill’s ex-husband that she had sex with three of her staffers, had been involved in another throuple before Desjardins, used campaign donations for a ‘sex-cation’, and drank and smoked marijuana excessively while serving as a member of Congress.
Heslep also claimed that a restraining order Hill had taken out against him was an attempt to gag him from speaking to the media.
Later that month Hill sued the publisher of DailyMail.com, news site Red State, a journalist for the site and Hill’s ex-husband, claiming that naked photographs of her included in the stories as evidence of her affair with her staffer were ‘revenge porn’ and part of ‘a revenge vendetta’.
On Wednesday Judge Orozco ruled that Hill’s claims were an ‘unlawful Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation’, citing a law designed to encourage free speech about ‘matters of public concern’ including politicians, without the chilling effects of fearing costly lawsuits.
Heslep said Desjardins had told Hill she was bisexual when they’d first met, and described how his wife broached the subject of a three-way date about a month later
‘Intimate images published by Defendant spoke to Plaintiff’s character and qualifications for her position, as they allegedly depicted Plaintiff with a campaign staffer whom she was alleged to have had a sexual affair with and appeared to show Plaintiff using a then-illegal drug and displaying a tattoo that was controversial because it resembled a white supremacy symbol that had become an issue during her congressional campaign,’ the ruling said.
‘Accordingly, the images were a matter of ‘public issue or public interest.’
In the court documents, Judge Orozco cited rulings where ‘the public should be permitted to determine the importance or relevance of the reported facts for itself.’
‘The photos show a sitting Congresswoman engaging in conduct some might consider highly inappropriate and perhaps unlawful, with one exhibiting Plaintiff’s tattoo which looks similar to the symbols formerly used by white supremacists,’ the ruling said.
‘The facts of which these photos speak are about Plaintiff’s character, judgment and qualifications for her congressional position. Of course, these are matters of public concern.’