Former Jets linebacker pleads guilty in 'revenge porn' case; likely to get probation

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FILE - This June 16, 2014 file photo shows New York Jets linebacker Jermaine Cunningham in Forham Park, N.J. Cunningham, a former New York Jets linebacker has pleaded guilty to three charges in connection with a domestic dispute that invoked New Jersey’s “revenge porn” law, Wednesday, May 20, 2015. (AP Photo/File)


NEWARK, New Jersey — A former New York Jets linebacker pleaded guilty Wednesday to three charges in connection with a domestic dispute that invoked New Jersey's landmark "revenge porn" law.

Jermaine Cunningham, an NFL free agent, is expected to be sentenced to probation in June.

The 26-year-old Cunningham pleaded guilty in state Superior Court in Union County to invasion of privacy, illegal transport of a weapon and possession of hollow-point bullets.

The charges stemmed from a domestic dispute at a residence in Summit on Dec. 29. A loaded handgun and the bullets were found in Cunningham's car. Prosecutors say he posted a sexually explicit image of his estranged girlfriend on Instagram without her consent.

The decade-old New Jersey law being used to prosecute Cunningham was the first of its kind in the country. It forbids disclosing photos or videos without consent of someone "whose intimate parts are exposed" or who is engaged in a sexual act. Under the law, an invasion of privacy conviction is punishable by up to five years in prison.

Sixteen more states have passed similar laws, including 14 in the past two years. At least 10 additional legislatures are considering revenge pornography laws.

Cunningham had sought to enter a pre-trial diversion program that would have enabled him to have any conviction erased from his record, but a judge denied that request two weeks ago.

He legally owned the handgun but illegally transported it when he had his car sent to New Jersey last year, the Union County prosecutor's office said.

His attorney, Tony Fusco, said that domestic violence charges were dropped by the woman, and that prosecutors also dropped a gun possession charge that could have resulted in a three-year prison term.

"He did not plead to possession of the gun, and nothing he pleaded to involved any domestic violence," Fusco said. "Considering what he was facing, it's a pretty good result."

Cunningham was with the Jets last year. He spent the season on injured reserve after tearing his Achilles tendon in a preseason scrimmage.

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