A Canadian photographer and comedian has admitted posting explicit images of women along with their names on controversial internet forum 4Chan.
However, he denied doing so for “malicious intent” – a practice known as doxxing.
Ren Bostelaar apologised for his actions but said the photos had already been posted elsewhere on the net by the women themselves.
Toronto Police is investigating but no charges have been made.
The allegations were made on social media by several women who claimed they were contacted by men after their photos and details appeared on 4Chan.
Some of their stories date back to 2005, they claim.
They say the images were never intended for public viewing and were shared in closed groups.
It is unclear whether Mr Bostelaar was the original photographer.
Under the Canadian Criminal Code it is illegal to distribute images “knowing that the person depicted in the image did not give their consent to that conduct”.
The photographer issued an apology on Facebook in which he described his behaviour as “reprehensively bad” but has since deleted all his social media accounts.
“Mr Bostelaar is deeply remorseful for his actions,” said his lawyer Sam Goldstein in a statement.
“The photographs he re-posted were photographs that the women themselves had posted on the internet in public forums such as Facebook, Reddit, or Tumblr.
“He did not deliberately disseminate private details for malicious intent.”
Mr Goldstein added that “not every personal moral failing requires judicial intervention”.
Ren Bostelaar is one of the writers in a successful satire group called Stats Canada.
The group tweeted to its 603,000 followers that his behaviour was “completely inexcusable”.