We have been following “stolen valor” cases and the constitutional controversies raised by faux warriors. There is now a disturbing case out of New York which could present the next context for such prosecution. This picture is of a true American hero: Sgt. Roberto Sanchez, 24, a US Army Ranger killed in combat in Afghanistan in 2009 after five tours of duty. It was reportedly stolen by a man named “Dylan Sorvino” to claim to be a special forces soldier to attract women and praise for his service on Facebook.
The use of a dead hero’s picture pushes stolen valor to a new low.
Sorvino claimed that the handsome pictures were his own and went into detail of how he grew up in New York, studied law and became a special forces soldier. He used the lies to attract women like divorcée Carolyn Hinz and other women. One of the women alerted the Sanchez family after finding the original photo on a military site.
Sanchez, 24, was actually a Floridian and was killed on Oct. 1, 2009 by an improvised explosive device.
Sorvino has now deleted his Facebook profile after Sanchez’s Ranger buddies found out and were not happy. If you are going to be lowlife identity thief, you might want to avoid ticking off the special forces community.
Sorvion wrote Hinz, 37, on Oct. 11th to inform her that “Tomorrow night is my crew’s last Iraqi patrol and we start packing up. I’ve been warned by command not to discuss my departure due to national security so we have to keep this talk to a minimum. . . . I certainly wasn’t prepared for you, you’re [sic] gorgeous smile, your wit and you’re [sic] ability to make me miss someone I’ve never met. How ironic, I had to travel 8,000 miles, go to war to meet this girl.”
Hinz was devastated and now says “I was a sucker for a cute face. It was a very cute face. Too bad it was someone else’s face.”
She was not alone.
Some have suggested that this case be prosecuted under the Stolen Valor Act, which I have long criticized on constitutional grounds. What is missing from these accounts (besides any evidence of humanity by Sorvino) was any use of the photos for commercial gain. This is obviously far more obnoxious and outrageous than the standard false pick-up line at a bar. However, the effort to criminalize such conduct raises considerable constitutional issues.
There remains the possibility of tort liability, which I would encourage the Sanchez family to consider. This is a case of the appropriation of a name or image as well as the negligent infliction of emotional distress. Once again, the absence of commercial gain weakens the appropriate tort, but there are still grounds to proceed. It is doubtful that a loser like this has been successful in life and has significant assets. However, the lawsuit would potentially hold him responsible for his conduct and force him to answer for this despicable act.
Source: NY Post