KATIE Hill, the California Democrat who resigned from Congress after leaked naked photos of her appeared online, has opened up about the "incredibly difficult" scandal.
Appearing as a guest on The View on Friday, Hill maintained her estranged husband Kenny Heslep was behind the leak that destroyed her political career, alleging he had threatened to "ruin" her if she left him.
At least one of the images showed the former congresswoman, 32, kissing 24-year-old Morgan Desjardins, a staff member with whom she and Heslep were in a 'throuple' - a polyamorous three-way relationship
"The photos were taken without my consent and without my knowledge," Hill said, alleging Heslep released them in an act of 'revenge porn'.
"I honestly didn't think that my husband would do that," she said.
"If not for me, then at least for the other person involved. But he did, and it was an incredibly difficult thing for me to reconcile."
When asked what allegedly motivated Heslep, who she is in the process of getting divorced from, Hill said it happened after she had left him, then returned, but wanted to leave again.
"He told ... not only me but many other people involved that if I left him he would ruin me.
"When I did, he made good on his promise."
However, Heslep has refuted his estranged wife's claims, saying in a statement read out during the segment on The View that he "denies any allegations of wrongdoing out right".
Hill admitted her romantic relationship with her younger staffer, Desjardins was one that "should not have formed" but that "it's just what happened."
The pictures of Hill emerged in October 2019 one day after the 32-year-old became the subject of a House ethics investigation into allegations she bedded two young legislative staffers, one male and one female.
One of the images appears to show the congresswoman nude with a "bong" filled with brown liquid and an Iron Cross style tattoo on her midriff.
Leaked text appeared to indicate the 'throuple' between Hill, Heslep and Desjardin, a claimed supported by images such as Hill seeming to brush Desjardin's hair while naked.
According to the messages leaked to RedState, Hill called off the relationship in May, four months after she moved to DC.
After the images were released, Hill's lawyer sent out a cease-and-desist letter to the Daily Mail, the website that published the photos, demanding it take down the images as this was an "invasion of privacy."
In a letter to her constituents in October, Hill acknowledged the relationship, writing: "I know that even a consensual relationship with a subordinate is inappropriate, but I still allowed it to happen despite my better judgement.
“For that I apologize. I wish nothing but the best for her and hope everyone respects her privacy in this difficult time.”
In a statement at the time, Hill said: "Having private photos of personal moments weaponized against me has been an appalling invasion of my privacy."
The statement also read: "For the mistakes made along the way and the people who have been hurt, I am so sorry, and I am learning.
“I am not a perfect person and never pretended to be. It’s one of the things that made my [political] race so special.”
Hill resigned after less than 10 months in office, having been seen as a rising star within the Democratic Party.
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She received plaudits for being an openly bisexual progressive who flipped a Los Angeles County seat that was previously Republican, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi picked the 32-year-old for a coveted leadership seat.
On October 31, Hill gave her final speech on the House floor.
She said: "I wasn’t ready for my time here to come to an end so soon. It’s a reality I’m still grappling with.
“I am leaving because there’s only one investigation that deserves the attention of this country, and that’s the one that we voted on today [impeachment]."
“I am leaving now because of a double standard. I'm leaving because of a misogynistic culture that gleefully consumed my naked pictures, capitalized on my sexuality and enabled my abusive ex to continue that abuse."
Also on Friday, the FBI arrested a hacker in connection with the 2018 Democratic California Primary, which ultimately elected Hill.
Arthur Dam "was found to be connected to the cyber attacks through subscriber information, IP addresses, geolocation history, and open sources, including through his employer and his wife, K.O., who worked for one of the Victim’s opponents,” the complaint reads.