Former Rep. Katie Hill filed court papers Tuesday against her ex-husband, the Daily Mail and RedState.com stemming from the unauthorized publication of nude images of her.
The Daily Mail in 2019 published nude photos of Hill taken by her former spouse, Kenneth Heslep, according to the former congresswoman’s still unofficial Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit, which alleges state Civil Code violations and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
She’s seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages and an injunction preventing further distribution of the photos. Representatives for the defendants could not immediately be reached for comment, but Heslep has previously denied allegations of abusing Hill.
“This case is about a man …. stopping at nothing to destroy the life of his ex-wife… when she dared end their relationship after more than 15 years of physical, sexual, verbal, emotional and psychological abuse,” Hill’s court papers allege. Hill alleges in her court papers that she lived in fear that if she ever tried to leave, Heslep would kill them both and their animals.
In October 2019, months after Hill had left her relationship with Heslep for good, RedState.com published “the first in a barrage of articles that included pictures and intimate text messages,” according to Hill’s court papers. “Then the sexually graphic photos were released.”
Hill “suffered extreme emotional distress, attempted suicide and was forced to quite her job, which in this case was the representative of California’s 25th Congressional District, one of the most difficult-to-get jobs in the universe,” her court papers state.
On Dec. 8, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge ordered Heslep to stay at least 100 yards away from his 33-year-old ex-wife, as well as her mother and sister. The ex-couple officially divorced in October. Hill, a bisexual Democrat, resigned her seat in 2019 after the nude photos of her were published and news emerged that she had a three-way relationship with her husband and a campaign staffer. She was also accused of having an affair with a member of her congressional staff.
Hill publicly blamed her husband then for the release of the photos. Speaking in Congress in 2019, she decried a “misogynistic culture that gleefully consumed my naked pictures, capitalized on my sexuality and enabled my abusive ex to continue that abuse, this time with the entire country watching.”
The 25th Congressional District includes portions of the Antelope Valley. The seat had long been held by Republicans until Hill’s 2018 victory over then-Rep. Steve Knight, R-Palmdale. After Hill’s resignation, Republican Rep. Mike Garcia defeated Democratic Assemblywoman Christy Smith in a special election to fill the final 7 1/2 months of the term. Garcia then beat Smith again by a razor-thin margin in November’s election for a full two-year term.