'Vanderpump Rules' star Rachel Leviss revenge porn lawsuit moves forward

Former "Vanderpump Rules" cast member Rachel Leviss is fighting back against Ariana Madix's bid to dismiss the plaintiff's revenge porn and other claims against her, arguing in new court papers that distributing intimate photos of the plaintiff has nothing to do with the First Amendment.

Leviss alleges in her lawsuit that 40-year-old Tom Sandoval and the 39- year-old Madix, both still cast members on the show, produced and disseminated sexually explicit images of the plaintiff. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Daniel Crowley previously ruled that Leviss, 29, can proceed with her claims for eavesdropping and invasion of privacy against Sandoval, but will have to shore up her cause of action for intentional infliction of emotional distress. Sandoval's motion did not challenge Leviss' revenge porn claim.

Madix has filed a separate motion that maintains Leviss' action is a SLAPP suit (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) and asks that all three of the claims filed against their client be dismissed on free-speech grounds.

A hearing is scheduled for July 11.

"Plaintiff's complaint against Ms. Madix is an abuse of the legal process," Madix's lawyers argue in their court papers. "Plaintiff does not seek to vindicate any cognizable rights but (instead) to punish Ms. Madix, and deter others, from exercising their constitutionally protected right of free speech."

But on Thursday, Leviss' attorneys filed court papers asking that Madix's dismissal motion be denied.

"Indeed, the conduct at issue is not Madix's exercise of free speech, but instead her unlawful theft and distribution of sexually explicit videos of plaintiff," Leviss' lawyers argue.

The pleadings include a sworn declaration by Leviss, who says she became "increasingly isolated" after her romance ended with James Kennedy, another cast member.

"I began to confide in Sandoval, who had been in a relationship with Madix since 2014 and lived with her in Valley Village, California," Leviss says, "Over time, we became increasingly close, and I began to rely on him for emotional support; he, in turn, began to confide in me about the dire state of his relationship with Madix, describing it as a business partnership and casting its end as foregone. I viewed Sandoval as a close confidante and friend and our relationship as platonic. It became increasingly clear, however, that Sandoval had different intentions."

Leviss says Madix sent her three text messages in March 2023, two of them intimate videos of the plaintiff and the third stating, "you are DEAD TO ME."

"I realized that these recordings depicted my private, intimate video calls with Sandoval, which he had evidently recorded without my knowledge or consent," Leviss says. "I reacted to Madix's messages with shock and alarm. Because the recordings were sent from her phone, not Sandoval's, I knew that she had somehow taken possession of them. This made an already difficult situation decidedly worse."

Leviss further says that at the time, she did not know what Madix intended to do with the videos, but that her initial actions "spoke volumes and suggested she was prepared to undertake drastic, reckless and unlawful actions toward me. I believed then and continue to believe that Madix was not in full control of her faculties at the time and was genuinely bent on revenge."

According to Leviss' suit filed Feb. 29, she was "a victim of the predatory and dishonest behavior of an older man who recorded sexually explicit videos of her without her knowledge or consent, which were then distributed, disseminated and discussed publicly by a scorned woman seeking vengeance" against the plaintiff.

"Sandoval's irrelevant characterization of the affair itself as sordid and salacious, less than clandestine and open and ostentatious does not change the fact that ... the communications in question were confidential and that Sandoval recorded them intentionally and without the consent of all parties," Leviss' attorneys contend in their court papers.

Leviss, who was "humiliated and villainized for public consumption," is a shell of her former self and both her career prospects and reputation have been damaged, the suit alleges.