REVERSED.

Jan. 18th, 2017 10:47 pm
tim: text: "I'm not offended, I'm defiant" (defiant)
[personal profile] tim
Nóirín Plunkett died a year and a half ago. At the time of their death, their ex-spouse Michael Schwern was busy abusing the court system to terrorize Nóirín, suing Nóirín because their friends (of whom I am one) talked online about Schwern's arrest for domestic violence. (Yep, somehow it was Nóirín's fault that Schwern got himself arrested and that other people copied/pasted the link to his arrest record into tweets.)

Who is Schwern? Well, he's the kind of guy who can't stop trying to extort money from his ex even after they're in the grave, and he continued his lawsuit, targeting Nóirín's father. His attorney, a charming fellow named Bear Wilner-Nugent who defends rapists for fun and profit, was happy to go along for the ride. This type of lawsuit is known as a SLAPP lawsuit, because its goal was to silence and intimidate victims who talk about their experiences with sexual assault in public.

Nóirín not being around to talk about it further, there's no one alive who can say for sure that Schwern raped Nóirín. It would be understandable if other people looked at the possibility of being sued for $30,000,000 for telling the truth, and said nothing. What we can say is that Schwern was indecent enough not only to sue his ex-partner for (allegedly) talking about it, but to continue the lawsuit after that person died. You can decide for yourself whether Schwern is a rapist or just somebody who thought suing a corpse was a good way to rehabilitate his reputation.

Thankfully, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of freedom of speech, in favor of victims, and against Schwern and Wilner-Nugent's meritless lawsuit; you can read the decision (PDF) for yourself, but a content warning for graphic descriptions of rape applies. The decision also misgenders Nóirín, whose pronouns are they/them.

None of this will bring my friend back to life, but in these times, it's good to see justice done.

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Tim Chevalier

March 2017

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