Sign up as a Citizen Journalist and get involved in Information Activism.
Sign Up for Watchdog Updates!
DALLAS — It’s not the first time for an anonymous blogger named in an ongoing defamation suit against Google to be involved in a legal action alleging libel.
A California woman filed a lawsuit last year alleging that a Collin County, Texas, woman defamed her and her fiancee by anonymously posting that they “aided child molesters,” “supported pedophiles” and “attacked victims of alleged child molesters.”
The lawsuit, “Lorraine Schaffer Haake v. Megan Van Zelfden and John Doe Defendants 1-10,” claimed that Van Zelfden, posting anonymously, libeled her on the Texas blog, EllisCountyObserverSucks, and in the comments section of JoeyIsALittleKid.wordpress.com.
JoeyIsALittleKid.blogspot.com, which is authored by an anonymous blogger named Ginger Snap, is now identified in a defamation lawsuit filed in Dallas County styled John Margetis v. Google and Defendants John Does 1-2.
The case, which was filed in 95th Judicial District Court, is now under review by the judge who is considering several motions filed by the plaintiff and Google.
Haake said the attack especially posed a danger to her fiancee, with whom she lives, because he was involved in a child custody battle that had reached the appellate level. It could have caused him to lose his child, she said.
The hateful, false remarks apparently arose because they appeared on a radio show hosted last year by Joey Dauben, publisher of the blog EllisCountyObserver.com, Haake said. The couple had only known Dauben about three weeks, and they had no idea he would be indicted for sexual assault of a minor and later convicted, she said.
Haake said they became the subject of scorn from a group of people who apparently anonymously bonded on the blog to berate Dauben, who was widely criticized for unfair reporting on his blog. In addition to the libelous remarks, the bloggers even ridiculed her hair color, her fingernail polish, the appearance of her apartment and other personal subjects based on their scrutiny of her Facebook page, she said.
Attempts via messages online to get Van Zelfden and the bloggers to cease and desist the malicious remarks failed, and it resulted in more abuse, Haake said.
“Every time you try to address the defamation, it’s a digital free-for-all from Ginger Snap,” Haake said in an electronic message interview. “And as the lies, threats and their reasoning get more and more outlandish, you are accused of several mental problems.”
They even accused her of being a “cat woman,” she said.
One woman posting on the blog, who goes by the name of Yappy and claims to be a Canadian citizen living in Houston on a work permit with her husband, even threatened to “submit documents to the court to ruin his case,” she said. Yappy claimed to be a former child advocacy specialist before she immigrated to the U.S. with her husband who works for an oil company, she said.
“Megan Van Zelfden said if I didn’t like it, I could sue her,” Haake said. “So I did.”
Haake said she felt forced to take legal action, and that it cost her $4,000 just to determine the identity of Megan Van Zelfden so she could sue her. The cost of an attorney to file the case represents about another $6,000 in legal fees, she said.
Haake said that when Van Zelfden shut down the blog EllisCountyObserverSucks.com, she began posting malicious remarks on JoeyIsALittleKid.wordpress.com. so she was forced to include that blog and its participants in her lawsuit.
The lawsuit, which was filed Feb. 20, 2012, ended with a default judgment in favor of the plaintiff Dec. 3, 2012. Van Zelfden, who according to court records was evicted from her home in Plano Aug. 6, 2012, never responded to the legal action. The court ordered all of the offensive language removed from the blogs.
When JoeyIsALittleKid.wordpresss.com was shut down late last year by that blog hosting company because it was deemed to be allowing homophobic hate speech — according to a subsequent post by Ginger Snap — Haake said she saw a reprint of the libelous remarks about her and her fiancee. Ginger Snap relaunched the blog on Google’s website hosting service, Blogspot.com, and one of his associates, OReader, transferred all of the old files to a new blog called JoeyIsStillALittleKid.blogspot.com.
The blog set up by OReader reprinted all of the hateful rhetoric the court had ordered removed, Haake said. Her Houston lawyer contacted Google asking for the information to be moved, but that apparently never took place, she said.
OReader, who is also named in the Margetis lawsuit for posting the old blog stories that includes multiple references to him, changed the status of the blog to “invited guests only” after the latest lawsuit was filed.
OReader, who said she planned to cease blogging, claimed that the offensive remarks about Margetis would have been removed had he asked her, but Haake noted that’s never been the case in the past when she complained to the blog participants.
In his legal documents, Margetis claims he asked Google to remove the posts he found offensive, and the company refused his request. That prompted him to file the lawsuit, he said in the court documents.
After Google filed its answer to Margetis’ original petition, Ginger Snap apparently took it as a sign of impending success and blogged that the company would be supporting him and the other bloggers.
Afterwards, Yappy, who claims to be a rape victim and appears to be one of the more aggressive participants on the blog, has in recent weeks told someone who complained about unfair, untruthful remarks being made about him on the blog that her research showed that he had driven his longtime lover to commit suicide, that he was an alcoholic, that he was a supporter of child molesters and possibly a child molester himself.
Ginger Snap and several of the other bloggers told the complainant, who found a friend of 40 years dead as a result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound two years ago, that he was a sad, miserable, pathetic, old man.
Later, as it has become clear the lawsuit filed against Google would not be the slam-dunk success Ginger Snap anticipated, the blog has become eerily quiet.
Tags: bloggers, government, Joey Dauben, John Margetis, lawsuits, Megan Van Zelfden, Texas, transparency
- Texas Gets Top Global Ranking
- Perry Celebrates Tort Reform Anniversary
- Hasan silent as jurors begin death deliberations
- World waiting to see if Hasan will make a statement
- Prosecution rests in Hasan trial sentencing