Bianca Devins: Family sue NY officials over video footage of murdered teen

image copyrightCourtesy of Kimberly Devinsimage captionThe lawsuit accuses prosecutors of negligence and breaching federal child pornography laws

The mother of a 17-year-old girl who was killed in 2019 has filed a lawsuit accusing officials of sharing sex and murder videos with the media.

The death of Bianca Devins prompted widespread media attention when images posted by her murderer went viral.

Now her family's lawsuit alleges that explicit footage recorded by her killer was given to documentary makers.

The family is suing Oneida County in New York State and officials including local District Attorney Scott McNamara.

The filing alleges they "acted unconscionably and lawlessly" toward the victim with "reckless dissemination of evidence" to media producers seeking to cover the case.

The lawsuit claims Kimberly Devins, Bianca's mother, was shattered to learn videos taken by Clark had been shared. She now fears the material of them having sex will also go viral online, like the other images he shared of her daughter's murder.

It also accuses officials of breaking federal child pornography laws, because the evidence included video footage of Bianca having sex with Brandon Clark before he killed her.

The BBC contacted Oneida County District Attorney's Office and Mr McNamara, but both are yet to respond.

A viral murder

Bianca Devins was killed in July 2019 by Brandon Clark, 21, who stabbed the teenager in his car as they were driving home from a concert in Queens, a borough of New York City.

He documented the attack online – posting graphic images of Bianca's body to platforms like Snapchat and Instagram, as well as a Discord server used by her friends.

He attempted to take his own life after the murder, but survived. He was prosecuted and was sentenced to 25 years in prison in March this year.

Images Clark posted of Bianca Devins' body spread rapidly on social media in the aftermath of her murder. The public nature of her killing led to rapid growth in both her and her killer's Instagram accounts, with impersonators popping up and reposting the images to take advantage of the morbid interest.

Kimberley Devins has said she still receives online abuse and graphic photographs of her daughter's body from trolls.

  • The teenager whose murder was exploited for clicks

After his arrest, it emerged that Clark had also recorded videos of the murder. The lawsuit says that dashboard clips showed him having sex with the 17-year-old before stabbing her to death after accusing her of infidelity in a "jealous rage".

Kimberly Devins long-feared this footage would be made public and, according to her lawsuit, sought assurance from Oneida County prosecutors that the material would be protected.

The lawsuit alleges she was later told by two sets of documentary makers that the sex and murder videos had been shared with them by the district attorney's office, along with nude photographs from her daughter's phone.

image copyrightCourtesy of Kimberly Devinsimage captionThe lawsuit says Bianca Devins' family were told graphic evidence was shared with documentary makers

Carrie Goldberg, a lawyer who specialises in sexual exploitation, is representing Kimberly Devins.

"This has been emotionally devastating and fatiguing," Ms Goldberg told the BBC. "The family has not had a day of peace since Bianca died over two years ago."

She described the mother's experience of "perpetual hell" as she continues to receive graphic online abuse, including the images of her daughter's body.

The lawsuit also alleges that Kimberly Devins has repeatedly been denied access to the evidence that has been shared with the media.

It says law enforcement officials previously told Kimberly that New York state's child pornography laws, which have a younger limit, did not apply on the shared material as Bianca was 17. Both she, her legal counsel and the lawsuit say the video and nude photographs are unlawful under federal law and accuse the plaintiffs of disseminating child pornography.

The lawsuit is seeking punitive damages and an injunction to stop the material being shared any further.

The BBC contacted the documentary producers named on the lawsuit for comment.

Kimberly Devins has spoken about wanting to change the laws on graphic content being shared on social media in the aftermath of her daughter's killing.

Ms Goldberg says she is also hoping to pursue legal action against social media firms relating to the case.

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