Dr. Richard Carrier Has Sued Several Atheists and Their Blogging Networks on Charges of Defamation

Dr. Richard Carrier, the author of several books about ancient philosophy, religion, and science, has filed a lawsuit against multiple atheists, their blogging networks, and an atheist conference on charges of defamation (two counts), interference with his business (one count), and emotional distress (two counts). They stem from posts made about his alleged sexual harassment, an accusation he repeatedly denies.

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In the lawsuit, which we obtained through publicly available court records, Carrier asks for a total of $1,050,000 in compensatory damages and an additional $1,050,000 in punitive damages from all defendants.

Carrier says that PZ Myers and the Freethought Blogs network took part in making false, defamatory statements against him:

… [Myers] recounts and republishes false and defamatory allegations of sexual harassment (the “Narrative”), and alleges a pattern of “repeated boundary-pushing behavior.”

False and defamatory statements… include, but are not limited to, the assertion that Dr. Carrier engaged in “persistent” sexual behavior “in defiance of specific requests that he cease.”

On information and belief, Defendants made no effort to investigate or substantiate the statements’ veracity before republishing allegations Defendants either knew to be false or made with reckless disregard as to truth or falsity.

He says something similar of Stephanie Zvan and The Orbit network:

… she recounts and republishes alleged incidents of sexual harassment, claiming personal knowledge of no fewer than five incidents, and alleging a pattern of boundary pushing and problem behavior.

On information and belief, Defendants made no effort to investigate or substantiate the statements’ veracity before republishing allegations Defendants either knew to be false or made with reckless disregard as to truth or falsity.

He also makes that accusation of Lauren Lane and the Skepticon conference, which prohibited Carrier from attending future events:

False and defamatory statements… include, but are not limited to, the assertion that Dr. Carrier engaged in “repeated boundary-pushing behavior” at Skepticon or with anyone associated with Skepticon, and that Skepticon, Inc., “stopped inviting [Dr. Carrier] to speak partly because of” the alleged incidents “including towards someone involved in Skepticon” alleging multiple incidents, and alleging the intention as early as 2013 to exclude the Plaintiff’s presence at Skepticon for this reason, and the assertion that “attendees’ well being and comfort is put at an unacceptable risk by Carrier’s presence…”

Finally, Carrier quotes a Facebook post made by the final defendant, Amy Frank-Skiba, which described “a 2015 incident of sexual assault and sexual harassment.”

False and defamatory statements… include, but are not limited to, the assertion that Ms. Frank-Skiba was “not even close to being his only victim” and that the Plaintiff “sexually harassed” her and “touched” her, and the allegation of sexual assault with the hashtag “#sexualassault.”

The quoted passage… is defamatory, intentionally reckless and malicious.

On information and belief, Defendants made no effort to investigate or substantiate the statements’ veracity before republishing allegations Defendants either knew to be false or made with reckless disregard as to truth or falsity.

Carrier says that, as a result of Frank-Skiba’s claims, he was removed from the Secular Student Alliance’s Speakers Bureau, “eliminating associated promotional, logistical, and financial support.” He was also removed from Freethought Blogs, forcing him to “relocate his work” to a new domain. However, the network didn’t reroute links to that new site, “severely disrupting access to his work and search engine visibility.” His attempts to get the websites to retract and amend their statements didn’t go anywhere.

It all boils down to this:

By falsely claiming, without privilege, that Dr. Carrier committed sexual assault and/or sexual harassment, Defendants intended to inflict a vicious, deliberate, and calculated attack on Dr. Carrier’s character, reputation, and professional standing, and to turn the academic and skeptic communities against Dr. Carrier, and to cause them to have contempt, scorn, disgust, and hatred for him, and to hold him in the lowest possible regard.

Defendants’ statements stigmatize Dr. Carrier as guilty of serious criminal offenses involving moral turpitude, allege behavior incompatible with the proper conduct of his business and trade, and injure his professional standing.

He asks for $500,000 in compensatory damages and $500,000 in punitive damages for each of the two counts of defamation and $50,000 in both compensatory and punitive damages for interfering with his business — for a total of $2,100,000. He also wants an injunction against the named bloggers and everyone in their networks from publishing or republishing the “false and defamatory Narrative.”

Carrier requests a trial by jury.

(Screenshot via YouTube)

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