A candidate in a high-stakes legislative contest in Virginia had sex with her husband in live videos posted on a pornographic Web site and asked viewers to pay them money in return for carrying out specific sex acts.
Screen shots of Susanna Gibson on the Web site were shared with The Associated Press.
The election campaign for Gibson, a Democrat running for a seat in the Virginia House of Delegates in a district just outside Richmond, on Monday issued a statement in which it denounced the sharing of the videos as a breach of the law and her privacy. Gibson called the exposure of the videos “the worst gutter politics.”
“It won’t intimidate me and it won’t silence me,” she said in the statement. “My political opponents and their Republican allies have proven they’re willing to commit a sex crime to attack me and my family because there’s no line they won’t cross to silence women when they speak up.”
The Washington Post reported the videos on Monday.
The revelation marked an explosive turn in a contest that carries significant weight in determining the balance of power in the Virginia General Assembly. The race has attracted large amounts of spending and interest for an off-year legislative race.
Democrats control the Senate by a four-vote margin, and Republicans control the House of Delegates by the same margin, with four seats vacant. The parties are waging intense legislative battles as Republican rising national political star Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin looks to bolster his conservative agenda with full control of state government.
Gibson said that exposing the videos is “an illegal invasion of my privacy designed to humiliate me and my family.”
Gibson’s attorney, Daniel Watkins, said that disseminating the videos is a contravention of Virginia’s revenge porn law, which makes it a crime to “maliciously” disseminate or sell nude or sexual images of another person with the intent to “coerce, harass or intimidate.”
“A criminal act has occurred here, and that’s the dissemination of revenge porn by a Republican operative,” Watkins said.
Watkins cited a 2021 Virginia Court of Appeals ruling that found it was unlawful for a man to secretly record his girlfriend during a consensual sexual encounter even if he did not show the video to other people. The court found that consent to being seen is not the same as consent to being recorded.
Gibson, 40, a nurse practitioner and married mother of two young children, won a Democratic primary in June and is running against Republican businessman David Owen in one of the most competitive districts in the state.
“I’m sure this is a difficult time for Susanna and her family, and I’m remaining focused on my campaign,” Owen said in a statement.
A top-ranking Virginia Democrat immediately came to Gibson’s defense after the videos were reported.
“Now we are going to make this the biggest fundraising day of her campaign,” Virgina Senator Louise Lucas said on X.
Gibson and Owen are competing in the 57th District, an area that includes suburbs of Richmond in both Henrico and Goochland counties. The district chose Youngkin by a 51.2 percent to 48.3 percent margin in 2021, but in last year’s congressional midterm elections, the split in the district was 50 percent Democratic to 49.1 percent Republican.
Gibson has said the US Supreme Court’s decision last year to overturn Roe v. Wade propelled her into the race.
Gibson had an account on Chaturbate, a legal Web site where viewers can watch live webcam performances that feature nudity and sexual activity, according to the screen shots.
The videos show Gibson and her husband, John Gibson, having sex and at times looking into the camera and asking viewers for donations in the form of “tokens” or “tips” to watch a private show.
Chaturbate videos are streamed live on the site and are often archived on other publicly available sites, the Washington Post reported.
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