Friday, January 4, 2013

Teen's Libel Suit Against Blogger Dropped--Posters Retain Anonymity

Former SkyBank branch in downtown Steubenville...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported this week a settlement under which a 16-year-old Steubenville (Ohio) high school football player and his parents dismissed with prejudice their defamation claim against a blogger and two anonymous posters who commented about the alleged sexual assault of a 16-year-old girl last August.

Two pseudonymous commenters on Alexandria Goddard's blog,, alleged that the 16-year-old player should face consequences for his purported involvement in the attack, prompting the libel claim. Goddard fought efforts by the youth and his parents to obtain the identities of the anonymous posters.

Two of the youth's football teammates are facing rape charges in a trial next month, according to the Plain Dealer article. The plaintiff was not charged and claims he was not present when the alleged incident occurred.

Pursuant to the agreement reached by the parties, besides dropping the lawsuit, the youth posted an apology on, expressing regret for tweeting vulgar remarks and a photo of the alleged victim. Goddard blogged that neither she nor the anonymous commenters professed to have evidence that the plaintiff was directly involved in the alleged assault.

Attorneys who represented Goddard and the unnamed posters pro bono, haled the outcome of the case as a victory for the First Amendment.

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