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Bloke accused of using cop's innocent Facebook snaps in child sex chat

Officer and wife sues man for emotional damage in alleged swiped photos saga

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A Connecticut man has been taken to court, accused of stealing a cop's innocent Facebook photos for raunchy online chats with underage girls.

According to a civil lawsuit filed by Joseph and Sarah Dzamko, the defendant Joseph Dossantos allegedly used Joseph Dzamko's pictures to represent himself when flirting with whom he believed to be 14-year-old girls.

The youngsters were in fact police detectives running a sting operation, the New Haven branch of the Connecticut Superior Court was told [PDF].

In the course of the alleged sexually explicit conversations in 2012, the defendant – then aged 40 – is said to have portrayed himself as a younger fellow by using everyday images collected from the Facebook page of Dzamko, who happened to be a police officer in a nearby town.

Officer Dzamko said he was recognized in the photos by the detectives running the web sting and, according to court documents, Dzamko soon found himself under scrutiny by his police force's internal affairs investigators – who were unaware that his snaps were being used by an impersonator.

Dzamko is now seeking damages from Dossantos on charges of false publicity as well as emotional harm sustained by both Dzamko and his wife over the course of the saga. The case, filed in May this year and last heard in late October, is still pending and its outcome has not been decided. Dossantos had asked the court to strike out the claims against him, but Judge Jon Blue denied the request.

Today Evan Brown, attorney for tech law firm InfoLawGroup and curator of the InternetCases blog, told The Reg the case places an interesting spin on the debates over defamation that commonly arise on websites such as "revenge porn" galleries – in which jilted lovers upload compromising pics of their former squeezes.

"This case covers even broader ground than those efforts, and at the same time doesn't do anything new," he said.

"What's key here is the nature of the harm that the plaintiff and his wife felt. The court decided that it was sufficiently outrageous to hold the defendant responsible."

Of particular interest, said Brown, is the fact that the images of the plaintiff at issue were not in and of themselves explicit. Rather, the context of how they were presented by the defendant was key to the claim that they were harmful.

"The thing that makes this case a bit unusual is that the photos aren't sexually explicit themselves, but they still form the basis of this lawsuit," because it's claimed the ordinary snaps were used with alleged sexual chatter with a minor, Brown noted. ®

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