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Utah State Bar investigating after topless photo is emailed to members

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah State Bar is looking into how an email with a photo of a woman's bare chest was sent out to members of its email list Monday.

Matt Page, communications director for the Utah State Bar, confirmed the contents of the email and the organization's inquiry into how it was sent.

"We are aware of it and we are horrified," Page said. "Our goal is to get to the bottom of what happened and ensure that it never happens again."

Page said the Utah State Bar is considering a number of questions about the email's origin, including whether the organization was hacked or whether the photo was included in the message — inadvertantly or intentionally — by someone within the organization.

"We are looking into both of those scenarios," Page said. "At this point, we're not sure which one of those occurred."

It was also unknown Monday whether there were any cybersecurity concerns for those who received or opened the email, he said.

Once the inquiry is done, Page said the Utah State Bar will release its findings to its members.

A second email was sent quickly after the first, including a message from the organization's IT director, Lincoln Mead, apologizing for the "offensive image" and announcing that the message was being investigated.

Mead confirmed Monday that the message was only emailed and was not published to the organization's website or any social media pages.

Chase Thomas, policy and advocacy counsel at Alliance for a Better Utah, was among the attorneys who received the email.

The subject line of the email invited recipients to the organization's convention happening this weekend in St. George, Thomas said, announcing, "2018 Spring Convention Walk-Ins Welcome! Learn How!"

Nothing about the email raised any red flags, Thomas said, so he opened the message as he sat in the House gallery at the state Capitol.

"I was expecting a routine email I would most likely scroll through and delete. But I had to scroll through and delete a lot faster than I had initially anticipated," Thomas said.

Thomas said he was lucky to be seated on the top row of the gallery, so no one was sitting behind him, but an intern who was with him got a look at the message.

In a tweet, Thomas warned others, "If you recently got an email from the Utah Bar, be careful opening it! There may or may not be a naughty picture in it. … Guessing they got hacked?"

He received the apology email soon after. He said he's not sure what the Utah State Bar should do about the message.

"I guess it depends on what they find out during their investigation. I'm just glad they quickly sent out an email acknowledging it happened and that they're looking into it," Thomas said.