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Hilo man gets probation in ‘revenge porn’ case

  • JOHN BURNETT/Hawaii Tribune-Herald file photo In this 2017 file photo, Gregory Payne, left, turns to his attorney, Deputy Public Defender Jeff Ng, in Hilo Circuit Court.

A 53-year-old Hilo man who engaged in so-called “revenge porn” against a woman he had a prior sexual relationship with was sentenced Thursday to four years of probation.

Gregory William Payne pleaded no contest to first-degree violation of privacy, a Class C felony, in a deal with prosecutors. In return for his plea, prosecutors dropped misdemeanor charges of trespassing on public school grounds and impersonating a public servant.

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According to the complaint, the violation of privacy offense occurred Jan. 1, 2016; the trespassing, also at a public school, on Dec. 13, 2016; and the impersonation of a public servant on Jan. 17, 2017.

Payne, then a substitute teacher, engaged in consensual sex with the woman on the grounds of E.B. de Silva Elementary School outside school hours, but also photographed the woman during the encounter while she was blindfolded and without her permission.

He then used Department of Education letterhead and signed the name of a DOE official on a letter to a professional associate of the woman and included a photo or photos of the sexual encounter.

Payne’s actions violated a 2014 expansion of the violation of privacy laws that covers revenge porn. The expansion includes “knowingly disclosing an image or video of another identifiable person either in the nude or engaging in sexual conduct without the consent of the depicted person with intent to harm substantially the depicted person.”

Hawaii County deputy prosecutor Rick Damerville said the premeditation apparent in Payne’s actions indicated that he had, out of spite, intended to cause the woman to lose her job without any repercussions to himself. Because of this, Damerville said, a 6-month jail term along with the probationary period was appropriate.

Payne’s probation will require that he make no contact with the woman or her family, nor leave the island without the permission of his probation agent. Furthermore, he is required to pay $1,339 in restitution for the woman and will be required to spend 30 days in jail as part of his probation.

Damerville also requested the probationary period include drug-use terms, stating that Payne’s use of drugs such as Adderall and corticosteroids — used as performance-enhancing drugs by weightlifters like Payne, who was a former powerlifter — might account for his behavior. Hilo Circuit Judge Henry Nakamoto denied that request.

The Hilo-born Payne, who has no prior criminal record, delivered a prepared statement Thursday apologizing for his actions and stating that he “takes full responsibility” for their consequences.

The victim did not speak Thursday, but had delivered a statement on Sept. 4, when the sentencing was originally scheduled.

On that day, the woman said Payne “knowingly, willfully, attempted to destroy my career and reputation as a professional, my relationship with my family members, my sanity.”

“The defendant, through his criminal acts, willingly and willfully robbed me of my dignity, my worth, my time, my sleep, my health, my trust, my intimacy, my confidence, my security, my peace — and until recently, my voice and my courage,” the victim said. Emotionally, she added, “The damage is done and I will, as a result, spend a lifetime living with the consequences of the defendant’s willful, heinous … actions … so knowingly and inhumanely inflicted upon me.

“Your Honor, I therefore ask that the defendant be held accountable and required to accept the consequences of his actions.”

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Email Michael Brestovansky at mbrestovansky@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.