The following article was originally published in The Consortium July 22, 2016. It is being republished in light of the recent indictment of two former employees of Ms. Plaskett in connection with the leaking of nude photos and videos of the congresswoman and her husband.
On July 6, a strange email arrived in the inbox of The Virgin Islands Consortium’s main contact email ([email protected]). The message appeared in broken dialect text with a pointed message: “Luk Close. Wha de hell day exposing dis lil gul to? ” The email arrived in the morning and was not immediately checked, as it was being ignored as spam.
The following day, however, the email was opened, only to find a video and a screengrab (a screenshot taken from a video) of what appeared to be private footage of Delegate to Congress Stacey Plaskett and her husband, Jonathan Buckney-Small, who was being recorded by the congresswoman, naked, wearing eye shadow and lipstick.
In the video, Ms. Plaskett can be heard talking while recording her husband with a cellphone. He appears to be fully naked. Then, he says something to one of their children — appearing to be between 5-7 years old — who then appears behind her seemingly naked father.
The Consortium’s founder, Ernice Gilbert, immediately went to the F.B.I. with the video for two reasons: an illegal activity had occurred in that Ms. Plaskett’s cellphone or computer had been hacked, and the rather bizarre nature of the video. Federal investigators immediately commenced an inquiry, searching for an IP address and other pertinent information that could lead to the originator.
Federal officials say although the video definitely appears to be strange in nature, it does not constitute a crime against the child, because although the father appears to be naked, he and Ms. Plaskett were not sexually active in the video in the presence of the child. And the child appears to be clothed, they observed, suggesting that there was no illicit activity involving the minor.
The hacker’s motive appears to be political in nature, as the email’s title reads, and we quote verbatim: “Luk whoo leadin we: no wonda dis whole territory screw up — Plaskett MuSt GO!”
The manner in which the text was written suggests that the hacker is local. But it could also be a diversion to confuse federal investigators. And if the hacker managed to break into Ms. Plaskett’s computer, as she has claimed, then the hacker would be very hard to track because of the skills involved in completing such a hack. A federal agent said the hacker could easily reroute multiple IP addresses to various parts of the world, weaving an extremely complex web and making it nearly impossible to track.
The video, message and screengrab were sent through the email address “[email protected]”. The sender’s name, which most likely is fake, registered as Susan Ricenville.
About a week and a half following The Consortium’s receipt of the video, rumors started swirling around Virgin Islands circles that a video of Ms. Plaskett, her naked husband and their child started making the rounds, suggesting that the hacker became impatient after nothing appeared on the matter through this publication. For the record, The Consortium did not share the video with anyone, except federal officials.
And the same handle that sent the video and screengrab to us, was the same name that appeared on the Faceboook page that leaked the video yesterday — Susan Ricenville — before it was taken down by Facebook.
The hacker did not send separate images that began making the rounds yesterday, one of which included Ms. Plaskett taking a topless selfie of herself. But she said those were also ripped from her computer by the hacker.
“Our office is currently working with the Capitol Police and the FBI and I can confirm that an active investigation is underway to find out who committed this crime and anyone else who may have been involved” said Ms. Plaskett’s chief of staff Jerome Murray in a statement issued by the congresswoman.
According to the statement, the fact that the illegal activity had taken place two weeks before an upcoming primary election was not being considered a coincidence.
“The fact that whoever is behind this type of criminal behavior decided to time it just before Virgin Islanders will be voting is not lost on us, while we don’t believe it will have whatever effect was intended, it is a sad commentary on the level to which some will stoop,” Mr. Murray said.
“This incident shows that there are some people who will go to any length to degrade a woman who refuses to play their games and will try to besmirch my good name by any means necessary. I have a message for the criminals who perpetrated these heinous acts: I will not go away. I know the people of our Virgin Islands are disgusted by individuals who would try to destroy families for political gain. I ask Virgin Islanders to stand with me as the authorities continue to investigate this matter,” Ms. Plaskett concluded.