Hope Barden, a 21-year-old part-time webcam model from the U.K., accidentally strangled to death while fulfilling the wishes of a man who paid to watch her asphyxiate herself for his sexual gratification. Now her distraught family is speaking out.
South Staffordshire coroner Andrew Haigh concluded Wednesday that the Burton-upon-Trent resident died from asphyxiation, according to a Staffordshire Police statement. Barden’s roommate found her dead in her apartment in March 2018, police said.
Barden worked as an adult webcam model to supplement her income as a caregiver to people with learning disabilities.
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Jerome Dangar, 45, had been paying Barden to perform sexual acts online last year, “which over three months of contact escalated into degrading and dangerous situations,” according to a statement from the deceased woman’s mother, Kate.
Authorities looked into charging Dangar with manslaughter in connection to Barden’s death after learning that he had been online when she died and did not alert emergency services. However, they never got the chance.
In April, Dangar was found dead in his jail cell, where he had been held since being convicted separately of possession of extreme pornographic images in January.
“The death of Dangar ultimately prevented prosecutors from charging him in connection with Hope’s death as a result of sexually-related role-play,” Detective Inspector John Quilty said. “This type of online sexual activity is extremely dangerous and the repeated persuasion and dangerous requests that Dangar placed on Hope ultimately led to her death.”
“The potential consequences for Dangar, should send a strong deterrent message to those who engage in such dangerous sexual acts and make requests of others whilst online,” Quilty added.
Hope Barden and the debate over loosening sexual norms
In a statement, Barden’s mother raised spoke out against the dangers of an “unregulated” adult industry.
“Hope had been earning extra money working in the online adult film industry. Unregulated, this industry serves no one except those who wish to perpetrate violence against women,” she said. “Hope became the subject of interest of a regular user of the site who paid her to perform sexual acts via the internet, which over three months of contact escalated into degrading and dangerous situations.”
Kate Barden’s message reflects an ongoing cultural debate regarding the impact of loosening sexual mores on women.
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Spearheaded by feminists, the sex-positivity movement has gone well beyond combatting “slut shaming” to celebrating overt displays of female sexuality. Conservative critics have bemoaned the weakening of traditional gender norms, including female modesty. And other feminists have agreed, warning that their lascivious counterparts are playing into the hands of the patriarchy.
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