George Zimmerman, the Florida man who shot black teenager Trayvon Martin to death in 2012 and was subsequently acquitted of all criminal charges, had his Twitter account suspended on Thursday after he used it to post semi-nude photographs of a woman he identified as his ex-girlfriend.
The photos appeared on Zimmerman’s account along with her name, phone number, and e-mail address. He accused the woman of cheating on him with a “dirty Muslim.” His tweets violated Twitter’s policy against posting personal contact information or intimate photos without consent, so his account was shut down in short order.
A law criminalizing “revenge porn” went into effect in Florida this October, but a law professor told the Washington Post that Zimmerman’s tweets probably did not violate the law, which requires that the images depict nudity or sexual conduct according to a strict definition that would seem to exclude the semi-nude photos he posted. Indeed, he may have researched the law in order to ensure that his tweets did not violate it.
However, Zimmerman could also potentially be charged under several other state and federal laws against cyberharassment and stalking, and the woman in question might also have grounds to sue him.
Since being found not guilty in the Trayvon Martin shooting, Zimmerman has been taken into police custody multiple times over allegations of domestic violence. In September 2013, his then-wife Shellie called 911 to say that he had punched her father in the nose and threatened her with a gun; that November, he was charged with aggravated assault, battery domestic violence, and criminal mischief after threatening his girlfriend with a shotgun, shoving her, and breaking her belongings; and this past January, he was arrested yet again for throwing a wine bottle at another girlfriend.
In all three cases, the women either declined to press charges against Zimmerman or later asked that they be dropped.
Florida is one of 26 states with laws against revenge porn, which has come under increasing scrutiny in recent years. Hunter Moore, the founder of the infamous revenge-porn site IsAnyoneUp.com, was recently sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison, his lawyer told The Guardian on Thursday.