Stephen Elliott, a writer who appeared on a widely circulated list of men who were said to have committed various forms of sexual misconduct, is suing Moira Donegan, the woman who created the document. Mr. Elliott says that she and various unnamed women who contributed to the list harmed his reputational and emotional well-being with claims that he says are false.
Mr. Elliott, an author based in New Orleans, whose name appeared on the list highlighted in red to signify that multiple women had accused him of “physical sexual violence,” said in a lawsuit that the information about him on the list was “abusive, vulgar, intentionally misleading as well as damning to the Plaintiff’s reputation and good name.”
The suit, which was reported by Jezebel, was filed in federal court on Wednesday.
Mr. Elliott, whose name on the list was attached to “rape accusations, sexual harassment” and “coercion,” wrote an essay for Quillette recently in which he said that the accusations had “derailed his life.”
The lawsuit asserts that Mr. Elliott lost professional opportunities and friendships after the list became public knowledge. It accuses Ms. Donegan and the other authors of the list of taking action “solely to damage Plaintiff’s reputation and career.”
The list was created exactly a year ago by Ms. Donegan, who has said that she sought to warn peers in the media industry about men to be avoided. It was created in a Google spreadsheet, which can be edited collaboratively, and initially shared with a select group. Directions at the top of the list read: “Please never name an accuser, and please never share this document with a man.” Knowledge of the document spread quickly, bringing both additional viewers to it and additional names, as the other women, many of them acting anonymously, added people to the list.
The suit represents the first known legal action taken by a man named on the list against its creator and contributors. Andrew T. Miltenberg, a lawyer representing Mr. Elliott, said in an interview Thursday that he had taken the case because “people shouldn’t be able to hide behind anonymity — in this case the anonymity of the internet — to ruin someone’s life.”
He said that other people had expressed interest in joining the suit, but that as of Thursday evening, no one had. He did not give further details on who had expressed interest. He also declined to comment on who was paying Mr. Elliott’s legal fees.
“If you’re Stephen Elliot or someone else on that list or a private person, an individual who’s just a target, where do you go to get your reputation back and how you defend yourself?” he asked. He said that the list represented a modern-day form of McCarthyism.
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SOURCE: New York Times, Jonah Engel Bromwich