You need to contact a business/internet lawyer (or litigator) ASAP. I assume the pictures of your wife were taken without her consent. Even if they were taken with her consent, the photographer may have some rights to the photos, but I assume the pictures have been misappropriated - i.e., used in a manner for which she did not consent. Also, a person's likeness cannot be used for commercial purposes without their consent and/or compensation. Finally, you may have a claim for defamation - in Illinois, publishing a photo and associating a person with statements & prices for sexual services, giving the impression that the person is an escort can be "de facto" defamation - a claim that can provide your wife with monetary damages.
In short, her privacy rights have been violated. If the website owner does not voluntarily take them down, you will likely be able to get a court order requiring the website to stop publishing/distributing photos of your wife and advertising "her" services. You should also consider pursuing a claim to get him to destroy or turn the videos and pictures to you. However, it is unclear from your post whether the videos and pictures were taken without your consent or knowledge or it was his posting of them that was done without your consent. Unfortunately, this may make a difference in your ability to have them destroyed or returned to you.
This answer is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice nor does it establish an attorney-client relationship. Please consult a local business lawyer to obtain legal advice that is tailored to your circumstances and facts. Good luck to you.
Several questions come to mind:
When and under what circumstances was the photograph taken? If your wife was a model, and the photo was licensed to a stock photo library or just by the photographer, did she sign any kind of release at the time the photo was taken? The language of such release
There have been cases of models who've signed releases later being unhappy about the ways in which their photos have been used, and with very few exceptions, the models lose these cases.
Now, if your wife was NOT a model, did not POSE for these photos, and was just photographed in public, it's not an invasion of her privacy, but it IS defamatory. (Libel, to be exact)
Defamation is any false statement published about a person, which causes them injury to reputation or stature in the community. If the statement alleges a criminal act, loathesome disease, business misconduct, or that a woman is unchaste, it is Libel PER SE, and little other proof of damages will be required.
Hire a defamation attorney to investigate this and, if appropriate, file a lawsuit.
Your wife has claims for violations of her right of publicity, privacy and defamation, regardless of whether she owns the photos themselves, since they're being used to advertise her fictional escort services. If she got an assignement of the photos and is their owner, she also would have a copyright infringement claim, since this use seems unauthorized. But as pointed out by my colleague, if she once was an escort or model, she may have signed away her rights to these photos.
If you're not successful in getting the webmaster to take the photos down, she'll need to hire a lawyer for help.
Disclaimer: Please note that this answer does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied on, since each state has different laws, each situation is fact specific, and it is impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship.
You should contact a local attorney if they are refusing to comply with your demands.
Eric N. Assouline, Esq.
ASSOULINE & BERLOWE, P.A.
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Dania Beach, Florida 33004
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