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Couple Charged With Sexual Assault Wins Internet Defamation Lawsuit

A Texas couple, Mark Lesher, 63, and his wife, Rhonda, 50, were accused by a woman of sexual assault. Mark Lesher is a prominent attorney, and Rhonda was running a successful day spa. The accusation included a man who works on the Lesher’s ranch.   Before they stood trial in January 2009, there was a steady stream of attacks on the Web forum Topix.com.   The comments accused the couple of murder, encouraging pedophilia, drug abuse and other crimes that materially attack their characters.

In January 2009, the couple and their ranch hand were found not guilty on all charges.

Three years ago, the couple filed a 365-page lawsuit naming 178 pseudonyms used to post what they considered the most defamatory messages. They posted the lawsuit on Topix and served the company a subpoena to obtain the IP addresses. A Texas judge ordered Topix to turn over the identifying information about the anonymous posters. The Internet Protocol (IP) addresses led to a couple that owned a business, and accused the Lesher’s of sexual assault in 2008.

In July 2009, the Leshers filed an amended petition in the District Court of Tarrant County, Texas naming Shannon Coyel, the couple’s accuser; her husband Gerald Covel and his brother, James Coyel. Also named as a defendant was Apache Truck & Van Parts of Kennedale, Texas and two of its employers, Charlie and Pat Doescher.

mark-and-rhonda-lesher

Mark and Rhonda Lesher stand on the steps of Collin County Courthouse in McKinney, Texas, shortly after their acquittal of sexual assault charges Jan. 16, 2009.

On Friday, a jury awarded the Leshers a judgment of $13.78 million.

Mark and Rhonda Lesher stand on the steps of Collin County Courthouse in McKinney, Texas, shortly after their acquittal of sexual assault charges Jan. 16, 2009. On Friday, the couple were awarded

The Gazette reported a malicious prosecution suit is pending that names as defendants the Coyels and Red River County District Attorney Val Varley, who unsuccessfully prosecuted the sexual assault case against the Leshers. That suit accuses them of conspiring to convict the Leshers of a crime they did not commit. The newspaper reports that a jury trial is scheduled for August.

Ryan Calo, who teaches privacy law at Stanford Law School and is joining the faculty at the University of Washington School of Law, said

“Defamation is one area of law in which a jury or court have to figure out how much damage has been done. It’s not a car accident where you can calculate medical bills and how much work was lost after an injury. There’s something more ephemeral in a reputation.”

There is a difference between free speech, which states an opinion, and accusations stated as fact that have no basis in fact and causes harm to the personal lives of others.

There’s more on this story and other internet defamation stories on ABC News.

Read the rest of this entry

Cyberabusers

Paula-extrememeanThe other week, I was watching the Steve Harvey show and Paula Todd was a guest on his program. Paula Todd is a Canadian journalist, investigative author, broadcaster, and lawyer. She is a professor of broadcast journalism and digital media at Seneca College, and is a frequent speaker on cyberabuse, Internet culture, writing, reporting, literacy and freedom of the press. In 2014, she published the book, Extreme Mean: Trolls, Bullies and Predators Online.

An introduction of her book starts with;

“Cyberbullying, tormenting and revenge porn. Workplace digital skullduggery, online defamation and reputation annihilation. Cyberstalking, Anon hate and adults ridiculing other’s children. Digital sexual extortion, blackmail and predators on the prowl. Which kids, youth and adults are behind this negative online behaviour and what can be done to stop the abuse?”

For those who have Word Press blogs, you know that we can see referrals to our blog from other sites and emails. I don’t always check that section on the Admin side, but when I saw a significant increase in the number of views one day, I did check.

steve-harveySteve Harvey’s website linked to an article on Blackbutterfly7. Words cannot express how honored I was. Of all the sites on the internet that reported on the particular subject matter, Blackbutterfly7 was chosen. I didn’t publicly share that information. Why? Because for years, cyberextortionists stalk the internet looking for opportunity to disparage this blog and defame me. I did not want them trying to verbally vandalize Steve Harvey’s website and taking up the time of his staff to moderate their defamatory vileness. Read the rest of this entry

Cyberharassment – Faces of Racism – Pt 4

Lessons learned, old lessons remembered……

(Alert.  Some might find the content in the comments of others presented in this article to be offensive.)

Five words I would hear on a regular basis day in and day out when training as an amateur boxer; “Protect yourself at all times.” You hear those words time and time again in the gym, even while hitting heavy bags or doing mitt work. It’s important even during sparring although those sessions are controlled and not as intense as an actual fight.

The idea is to instill that way of thinking into your head so you keep your hands up, keep your head moving and your feet moving, thus reducing the chance of getting caught with a shot you don’t see only to deposit you on the canvas.

It’s the last set of words you hear after having passed the ammunition to your opponent (Touching Gloves) and just before the opening bell sounds.

What do I mean in all of this? Lets look back when the internet started to surface and started to become the trend that it is today.

If you were a parent back then or even a single lady living alone, the internet was a place where you knew trouble lurked. You didn’t want your kids on the internet because you have prowlers trying to lure your kids to meet them. You have scam artists setting up websites in attempt to look legit but are intended to get your personal info and steal your identity or clean out your bank account. These are things we are all aware of and we all keep our guard up in regards to these types of realities. But I am going to take it even one step further. How many of you have surfed Youtube only to see some crazy conspiracy theories in the videos? I am pretty sure everybody here has stumbled across them on a couple of occasions.

The disturbing part is the creators of the videos; the creators of those theories, believe in them so much that if you even utter a word disagreeing they tend to claim your hired by the Government sent out to discredit truth seekers. Or am I the only one who happens to find Youtube users like that? Don’t take my word for it. Look up some of the Planet X theorist and try to debate reality with their warped sense of thinking and see what happens.

Anyhow, I have seen some crazy stuff surfing. There are videos where anti-Obama nutters claim that the Aurora shooting, Sandy Hook and even the Trayvon Martin shooting never took place. They claim that these were all paid actors and one huge effort to take away our 2nd amendment rights. Read the rest of this entry

Federal Judge Grants Temporary Restraining Order Against Use of Tear Gas

dubbin_ferguson_teargasOn Thursday, Federal Judge Carol E. Jackson of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, entered a temporary restraining order against defendants Chief Jon Belmar of the St. Louis County Police, Chief D. Samuel Dotson III of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police and Capt. Ronald S. Johnson of the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

Judge Jackson ordered that tear gas cannot be used to disperse legal gatherings and that the police must give clear warnings before deploying tear gas. The judge also ruled that the police must take steps to minimize the effect on those following orders and ensure that people have a “safe egress from the area.”

The matter was filed by six plaintiffs who also asked the court to issue a temporary restraining order requiring the police to wear “clearly visible personal identification” when responding to protests, and for the police to adhere to the law when deciding whether a protest constitutes illegal assembly.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for January 6, 2015.

Cyberharasser’s Court Action Backfires On Him

cyberstalkingMost of you who read this will know the experiences I am about to share with you as some of you reading have also been victimized by this individual. I am not sure exactly when the subject person started harassing others, but my point of reference starts with the George Zimmerman Trial.

I’m referring to the individual as my accuser.   It never occurred to me that by exercising my right to freedom of speech, that a series of events would lead to being threatened, stalked, harassed, defamed, and eventually led to court. But, this is what happened and it happened as a result of my advocacy for Trayvon Martin.

During the Zimmerman trial, I became familiar with an individual over social media. I had blocked several of his twitter and Facebook accounts due to the racist comments, racist memes and threats of violence. As time went on and the verdict was announced, and in protesting the verdict, the subject harasser stepped up the memes. They were more disturbing as if this was his method of a victory parade essentially rubbing salt in the wounds.

But that was expected. I mean when you look at the blatant racism in his memes, in his tweets and on his Facebook pages, who would not expect anything different. His postings make it that he a person who believes in white supremacy ideology. Read the rest of this entry

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