DENVER (CN) – An NBC station in Colorado sexually exploited a 14-year-old boy by broadcasting a picture of his penis and identifying him in a news story, the teenager claims in court.
Levi Holden, now 16, sued KOAA TV Channel 5 & 30, NBC Universal, Comcast, and six KOAA employees on Jan. 29 in Federal Court.
Holden, of Pueblo, says he and his parents approached KOAA News in February 2014 to report that he was being blackmailed with nude footage of his erect penis from a cell phone video that had been uploaded to Youtube.
Defendant KOAA reporter Matthew Prichard went to the Holdens’ house to report on the story. The station then broadcast an interview with Levi’s father, Elijah Holden, with an image of Levi’s penis and an unedited image of his Facebook page, which listed his full name and friends on his contact list, according to the complaint.
The family claims the station sexually exploited, defamed and invaded Levi’s privacy by broadcasting the photos accompanied by his name.
KOAA told Courthouse News that the story had been undertaken at the request of Holden’s father’s.
“Through a series of stories during the last several years, KOAA has informed its viewers about the dangers of sexting and cell phone security,” KOAA president and general manager Evan Pappas told Courthouse News in a statement. “At the specific request of the victim’s father, we ran a story two years ago about his son being blackmailed over a cell phone video.”
The lawsuit, however, says Holden’s father was adamant about his son’s privacy.
“Plaintiff and plaintiff’s father Elijah Holden both requested that Levi’s name be kept confidential through any report presented by defendant KOAA,” the complaint states.
Nonetheless, it adds: “KOAA aired the thumbnail image of the Youtube video depicting plaintiff’s erect penis and his name as a part of the story shown on February 24th 2014.”
Pappas’ statement added: “While we are unable to discuss the specifics of this recently filed litigation, we will defend ourselves against unfounded accusations.”
Defendants include Cordillera Communications, a Kentucky corporation; Evening Post Industries, a South Carolina corporation; four KOAA news managers and directors and a news anchor.
Holden seeks punitive damages on 12 causes of action, including negligence and willful and wanton conduct. His attorney Matthew Schneider, of Colorado Springs, did not immediately reply to a request for comment Tuesday.
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