Senate hearing room sex tape controversy explained

A congressional staffer sparked a social media firestorm and rocked Capitol Hill on Friday after having sex with another man in a Senate hearing room on video that was eventually leaked.

The situation unfolded on Friday afternoon when the Daily Caller published the video with the blurred out faces of two men engaging in sex in Hart Senate Office Building room 216, a location where several high-profile hearings have taken place in recent years, including Supreme Court confirmation hearings.

According to the Daily Caller, the video was leaked after being “shared in a private group for gay men in politics.”

Posts on social media claimed the alleged staffer worked for the office of Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md. Less than a day after the story broke, Cardin’s office announced that a legislative aide had been dismissed but did not address reports linking a member of his staff to the sex tape. 

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The video sparked a firestorm on social media with calls for an investigation and for those involved to be fired, with many conservatives slamming the media for their coverage of the event.

Jonathan Turley, Fox News contributor and the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University, wrote that the staffer could potentially face criminal charges.

“The question is whether this unofficial use would constitute trespass,” Turley wrote. “It also uses an official area for personal purposes, though it is not clear if there were any commercial benefits garnered from the video found on various sites.”

Turley said one possible charge could fall under D.C. code section 22-1312, which discusses lewd, indecent or obscene acts.

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“It is unlawful for a person, in public, to make an obscene or indecent exposure of his or her genitalia or anus, to engage in masturbation, or to engage in a sexual act as defined in § 22-3001(8). It is unlawful for a person to make an obscene or indecent sexual proposal to a minor. A person who violates any provision of this section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, shall be fined not more than the amount set forth in § 22-3571.01, imprisoned for not more than 90 days, or both,” the criminal code states.

Whether or not any video filmed in the hearing room was used to make money could also “have bearing on potential charges,” Turley wrote.

While there are currently no pending charges in the case, a security source did not rule out the possibility. Fox News was told that the USCP is working on cases it views as more serious, such as potential threats to lawmakers.

“It’s not a case we need to rush,” said one source to Fox. “We are taking it seriously.”

Fox News Channel’s Chad Pergram and Fox News Digital’s Adam Sabes and Chris Pandolfo contributed reporting.

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