By Patrice Nkrumah
A Southwest Side man will pay a $5,700 fine and spend nine months in prison for hacking intimate photos of Black celebrities Gabrielle Union, Jill Scott, and Megan Goode, along with those of nearly 30 other people, in 2014. The photos eventually ended up online.
Edward Majerczyk, 29, told a federal judge on January 24 that he was sorry for his actions. The son of two Chicago police officers, Majerczyk pled guilty last year to using a phishing scam to gain the username and passwords to celebrity email accounts. He then found and viewed nude photos and videos of the victims.
Majerczyk said he never shared the photos and an FBI spokesperson said the investigation is continuing to find out who released the photos on the internet. In all, law enforcement said Majerczyk accessed over 300 celebrity email accounts. Majerzyk posed as an online security technician from Apple to gain the womens’ trust. The incident dubbed “Celebgate” sent shockwaves throughout Hollywood.
“It’s a fair sentence and it reflects both the seriousness of what he did and that he’s a nice person who made a terrible mistake,” said Majerczyk’s attorney Tom Needham.
In court his client apologized to his victims and said the incident has allowed him to see who he really is and what he shouldn’t be doing with his life.
A reaction to the news from those in Black Hollywood was swift. Actress Garcelle Beauvais, who willingly posed for Playboy in August of 2007, tweeted “good.” She said in the past posing for art is different than having intimate photos published without permission. That was the point Majerczyk’s victims made as well.
“I did nothing wrong, my privacy invaded,” wrote singer Jill Scott in 2014 after pictures of her in a bathrobe appeared online. Scott said she took the photo of herself as part of a chronicle for a weight loss program she was on. She said there is nothing to be ashamed of, as she was a victim.
Another victim was actress Megan Goode. She said the topless photos of her that Majerczyk stole, were photos she would send to her husband Devon Franklin while she was on the road filming.
Gabrielle Union-Wade, the wife of Chicago Bulls star Dwayne Wade was also a victim of Majerczyk. She, like the others, was furious about the leak and took an offensive position. “I had been so happy that week…but suddenly, I felt paralyzed,” Union-Wade wrote in an open letter to Cosmopolitan magazine. The photos had been released a day after her wedding while she was on her honeymoon. “I can’t help but be reminded that since the dawn of time, women and children, specifically women of color, have been victimized, and the power over their own bodies taken from them. For black women targeted in this attack, there’s an added dimension,” Union added, who in the past has spoken about how she was raped as a teen.
Majerczyk will serve his prison sentence at a prison in Oxford, Wisconsin.