On behalf of myself and the John Doe defendants, we are very pleased to announce that the defamation lawsuit filed against us has been dismissed with prejudice. Dismissals with prejudice mean that this case can never be refiled again and this lawsuit is officially over. On December 20th, the plaintiffs approached us about settling this case, and we were quite happy to oblige. Lawsuits are costly and very stressful, and this suit has taken a toll on all involved. As part of the settlement we did not pay any money; we did not agree to retract any statements, nor did we agree to stop covering the case or discussing it.
Cody Saltsman has asked to make a statement here to express his remorse for the photo and comments that he tweeted. It is also his desire and ours to clarify that we never had any evidence of his direct involvement in the subsequent events of that night. While he may have been present at various parties that evening, there has been no evidence of his involvement in the rape, nor has he been charged with any such crime. We are happy to post his statement; it is below. We appreciate that Cody acknowledges that he was wrong to utilize social media for his part in this case and we believe that his remorse is genuine. We recognize that some things written here may have created the impression that Cody was involved in the alleged rape, and we wish to clarify that we have no evidence of any such involvement, and it was always the position of this blog that the truth would come out in a court of law – granted the case was moved to an adult venue as juvenile proceedings are generally sealed. We will continue to cover this rape case and others; we will continue to report on corruption, favoritism, and cronyism regardless of where it occurs; and we will continue to rally against victim-blaming and misogyny. While the lawsuit against us has been resolved, it is clear from recent news coverage that people in positions of power will continue to abuse that power at the expense of others. By proposing to drop the lawsuit and make the statement below, Cody Saltsman has shown that perhaps he can – and we certainly hope he does – grow into a responsible, caring, and empathetic adult. His hometown certainly could use more empathetic and compassionate individuals who are willing to stand up and do the right thing.
This site was happy to provide a forum for locals in Steubenville to engage in important speech protected by the First Amendment, and will continue to do so.
Before I end this post, I want to say a HUGE thanks to my friends and supporters who utilized social media to place attention on the defamation suit, which in turn brought about the Pope Signal from Ken White at popehat.com. The response from First Amendment attorneys was amazing, and I was able to put together a fantastic legal team. Thank you so much to Thomas Haren, Jeffrey Nye and Marc Randazza for their assistance in defending this case. I also want to thank Paul Levy from Public Citizen for negotiating the dismissal of the four John Does, and to the ACLU for stepping in to make sure that anonymous speech online would be defended.
STATEMENT FROM CODY SALTSMAN
“I deeply regret my actions on the night of August 11, 2012. While I wasn’t at the home where the alleged assault took place, there is no doubt that I was wrong to post that picture from an earlier party and tweet those awful comments. Not a moment goes by that I don’t wish I would have never posted that picture or tweeted those comments. I want to sincerely apologize to the victim and her family for these actions. I also want to acknowledge the work of several bloggers, especially Ms. Goddard at Prinniefied.com, in their efforts to make sure the full truth about that terrible night eventually comes out. At no time did my family mean to stop anyone from expressing themselves online – we only wanted to correct what we believed were misstatements that appeared on Ms. Goddard’s blog. I am glad that we have resolved our differences with Ms. Goddard and that she and her contributors can continue their
work.” – Cody Saltsman
STATEMENT FROM JOHN DOE DEFENDANTS:
We are pleased this legal matter has been resolved and that our First Amendment rights remain protected. From its onset, we believed the real goal of the lawsuit was to discover the identity of anonymous posters and to intimidate current and future commenters from freely expressing their points of view on this controversial case.
Given the serious free speech implications of this suit, we enlisted the aid of the ACLU of Ohio—the oldest civil liberties group in the nation with a long history of defending Americans’ First Amendment rights.
With help from the ACLU, we have reached a settlement with the individuals who sought to silence us. They have agreed to dismiss their lawsuit in exchange for an opportunity to share their point of view here.
We believe this exchange of ideas is what should have happened from the beginning. Online blogs are a community where many different people express divergent views on important social issues and daily life. Instead of seeking to silence those of us who were expressing our opinions, those who were offended should have added their voice to the conversation. We look forward to continuing our discussions on many topics, and hope that others feel free to express their opinions without fear of retaliation.