Friday, June 21, 2024

Jury Awards Drag Queen $1 Million Over Blog Post

'He maintained that Bushnell’s “honest belief” was that Posey exposed himself...'

(Headline USA) A jury has awarded more than $1.1 million to an Idaho drag queen who accused a blogger of defaming him during a Pride event in June 2022.

The Kootenai County District Court jury unanimously found Friday that Summer Bushnell defamed Post Falls resident Eric Posey when she posted a doctored video of his performance with a blurred spot that she claimed covered his “fully exposed genitals,” the Coeur D’Alene Press reported.

“The judicial system did what needed to be done,” Posey said after the verdict.

Jurors awarded Posey $926,000 in compensatory damages for defamation.

Because Posey ‘proved’ that Bushnell knew her allegations were false when she made them or that she made the accusations with reckless disregard for the truth, the jury awarded $250,000 in additional punitive damages.

Posey, a grown man who uses the stage name Mona Liza Million, performed three times at the Pride in the Park celebration wearing a long-sleeve leotard, black shorts and tights, with a shiny metallic boa around his waist.

Bushnell posted a video that day of herself discussing a mass arrest as well as footage from Posey’s performance.

“Why did no one arrest the man in a dress who flashed his genitalia to minors and people in the crowd?” she said. “No one said anything about it, and there’s video. I’m going to put up a blurred video to prove it.”

The next day Bushnell published the edited version of the video, which she obtained from a local videographer. It garnered many thousands of views, sparking national news coverage and a police investigation.

Bushnell’s attorney, Colton Boyles, told jurors that his client’s allegations were “close to the line” but not defamatory. He maintained that Bushnell’s “honest belief” was that Posey exposed himself.

After hearing the verdict, Posey burst into tears and embraced his lawyers and friends.

In a statement the North Idaho Pride Alliance, which organized the event where Posey performed, expressed gratitude to the jurors and affirmed its commitment to “ensuring the safety and well-being” of North Idaho’s LGBTQ+ community.

Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press

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