Pro-family activist Peter LaBarbera is threatening to sue a professor for accusing, in a Salon.com article, that he used the word “effing” during an April 9, 2014 speech.
LaBarbera, president of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, is demanding that Sinclair Community College English professor Kate Geiselman withdraw the accusation she leveled at him in the April 16 article.
On Friday, May 9, LaBarbera’s legal counsel, Charles S. LiMandri, Esq., sent a demand letter to Geiselman insisting that the Salon article be retracted, and Geiselman make a public apology. The letter states that if Geiselman and Salon refuse to comply, “we will take all necessary steps to protect Mr. LaBarbera’s rights including bringing a lawsuit against you and Salon.com for compensatory and punitive damages.”
In the article, Geiselman accuses LaBarbera of using the word as faculty from the Dayton, Ohio school led students to walk out of LaBarbera’s speech about homosexuality and the homosexual rights movement. LaBarbera was present on campus at the invitation of a student group, the Traditional Values Club.
The Salon article’s headline reads:
“You’re leaving? Are you effing kidding?” An anti-gay bigot gets humiliated
“I never said any such thing,” LaBarbera told BarbWire. “I’d never use a word like ‘effing,’ especially to an audience full of kids, and with a microphone in front of me. People sometimes hear what they want to hear … This quotation will be used to attack my reputation, so I want Salon to take the story down.”
According to Geiselman’s article,
When, less than 10 minutes later, he was left with an audience of about a dozen, he was angry. Angry enough to say, as the masses marched out, “You’re leaving? Are you effing kidding?” Angry enough to tweet, later that evening, “Two liberal professors lead their students in a walkout of my talk … rather than allow them to hear an opposing viewpoint.”
A video of the walkout does not clearly establish, at least to this reporter, whether or not LaBarbera used the word “effing,” though it does record that he maintained his composure throughout the incident. According to LaBarbera, two witnesses sitting in the front row support his denial that he used the word. The video also shows clearly that the walkout was led by a Sinclair faculty member, later revealed to be English professor Rebecca Morean.
Morean, Geiselman and a third Sinclair faculty member, psychology professor Anne Soltysiak, have admitted publicly that they orchestrated the walkout, leading students to a “cookies and hugs” session in another room. The walkout was ridiculed in an earlier BarbWire satire, “Gay Activists Drive Socrates to Drink.” The satire also reveals that Morean claimed she spent three years scheming how to humiliate one of the speakers invited to the campus by the Traditional Values Club.
For more information about the story, visit the Americans for Truth website.
LiMandri’s demand letter reads as follows:
Dear Ms. Geiselman:
Please be advised that the undersigned has been retained by Peter LaBarbera with respect to a potential claim for defamation against you. As you know, you falsely accused Mr. LaBarbera of using profanity at a talk that he gave at Sinclair Community College on April 9, 2013. The article in which you made that false and defamatory statement is here: http://www.salon.com/2014/04/16/%E2%80%9Cyou%E2%80%99re_leaving_are_you_effing_kidding%E2%80%9D_an_anti_gay_bigot_gets_humiliated/. A Youtube video of the staged walk-out that you organized of Mr. LaBarbera’s presentation is here: http://youtu.be/hxxMiyhxXzo. The audio on the two minute video makes it perfectly clear that Mr. LaBarbera did not utter the unprofessional and defamatory words that you attribute to him. This has been confirmed by multiple witnesses who were in immediate proximity to Mr. LaBarbera during his entire presentation. You further falsely accused Mr. LaBarbera of being “a person who makes his living telling lies” in the internet posting attached above. You did so even though you did not even have the decency to listen to his remarks before publicly excoriating him.
In Ohio, libel is defined as a false and malicious publication made with the intent to injure a person’s reputation or expose him to public hatred, contempt, ridicule, shame or disgrace, or to affect him adversely in his trade or profession. Becker v. Toulmin (1956), 165 Ohio St. 549; Cleveland Leader Printing Co. v. Nethersole (1911), 84 Ohio St. 118. Pursuant to Ohio law, a publication which of itself reflects upon the character of a person by bringing him into public ridicule, or which affects him injuriously in his trade or profession is libelous per se. Westropp v. E. W. Scripps Co. (1947), 148 Ohio St. 365; The Cleveland Leader Printing Co. v. Nethersole (1911), 84 Ohio St. 118. Therefore, the publication of a false statement ascribing to another conduct, characteristics or a condition incompatible with the proper conduct of his lawful business, trade or profession is libelous per se and damages are presumed. Landrum v. Dombey (1971), 30 Ohio App. 2d 200, 202.“A statement that someone is a liar is clearly one which would tend to injure a person’s reputation, and courts have considered such statements to be defamatory on their face”. Dillon v. Waller, 1995 Ohio App. LEXIS 5860, 12, 1995 WL 765224 (Ohio Ct. App., Franklin County Dec. 26, 1995); See also, Dale v. Ohio Civil Serv. Employees Ass’n, 57 Ohio St. 3d 112, 117, 567 N.E.2d 253, 258, 1991 Ohio LEXIS 178, 16, 136 L.R.R.M. 2898 (Ohio 1991).
By your false and defamatory statements you have maliciously sought to injure Mr. LaBarbera in his reputation and to expose him to public hatred, contempt, ridicule, shame or disgrace. You have also sought to injure him in his trade or profession. We hereby demand that you issue a public retraction of, and a public apology for, your false and defamatory statements made against Mr. LaBarbera. If you and Salon.com do not do so within ten (10) days from the date of this e-mail, then we will take all necessary steps to protect Mr. LaBarbera’s rights including bringing a lawsuit against you and Salon.com for compensatory and punitive damages. Please place any homeowner’s insurance carrier and professional liability carrier that you may have on notice of this claim. Such liability insurance may be available to satisfy this claim if you are a member of a teacher’s union. We look forward to your response or the response of your legal representative within the next ten days.
Charles S. LiMandri
Board Certified Civil Trial Advocate
National Board of Trial Advocacy
(Correction: The original photo that ran with this article was not that of Kate Geiselman.)
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