Drag Performer Files Defamation Suit Over Altered Video And False Statements

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Social Media Blogger Falsely Accused Pride in the Park Performer of Indecent Exposure

BOISE, Idaho—Stoel Rives today filed suit in the Idaho District Court for Kootenai County on behalf of Eric Posey, a drag performer falsely accused of exposing himself at Coeur d’Alene’s Pride in the Park celebration. The complaint asserts Kootenai County resident Summer Bushnell repeatedly defamed Posey by falsely posting on social media and falsely reporting to city and state law enforcement officials that Posey exposed his genitals to the public, including children, at the June 11 event.

Posey is represented by Stoel Rives’ Boise litigators, partner Wendy J. Olson and associate Cory M. Carone.

Bushnell, who owns an unincorporated digital marketing company, published a doctored video of one of Posey’s brief performances at the Pride event. She provided this video to Coeur d’Alene officials and posted it to Facebook and other social media sites, in addition to falsely accusing Posey of committing felonies and encouraging the public to call the local police department and the Idaho Attorney General to have him arrested. Her altered video—which blurred Posey’s groin to make it appear as if he exposed himself—was viewed nearly 20,000 times.

After investigating Bushnell’s false accusations, Coeur d’Alene‘s Prosecuting Attorney’s Office declined to arrest or charge Posey. Officials issued a statement on July 1 that both the edited and unedited videos of Posey’s performance had been viewed and no evidence to support Bushnell’s allegations of indecent exposure or other crimes was found.

In the nearly three months since the June 11 event, Posey has continued to suffer from Bushnell’s false accusations and the defamation of his character.

“After three months of silence, it is now my turn to speak. Following Coeur d’Alene’s sixth annual and largest Pride in the Park on June 11th, an altered video of my performance was widely circulated online, along with false allegations of indecent exposure,” said Posey. “Despite being cleared of all wrongdoing, provocateurs have continued to spread the doctored video of my performance, not only defaming me, but also inciting a backlash towards the LGBTQIA+ community statewide. I have no choice but to take legal action to hold those responsible for the lies accountable for their actions. My hope is that this civil suit puts a stop to the hateful disinformation campaigns being waged in Idaho.”

Today’s complaint details the highly organized hate and disinformation campaign that was launched to disrupt the 2022 Pride in the Park through intimidation. The celebration gained national attention when 31 members of the white supremacist group Patriot Front were apprehended as they prepared to disrupt the celebration. The complaint asserts that Bushnell decided to boost her popularity online by capitalizing on the national coverage these arrests attracted.

“Bushnell’s false statements had their intended effect—thousands of people across the nation viewed her posts and many of them believe Posey committed a serious crime,” said Olson. “Flyers with Bushnell’s doctored photo were posted throughout Coeur D’Alene and he has endured public harassment, hatred, contempt, and ridicule. Bushnell lied to gain popularity on social media, but the publicity she received was not free; it came at the expense of Posey’s reputation and emotional wellbeing. Mr. Posey is eager to set the record straight.”

“I’ve grown to approach life mindful that the energy I reflect has an impact on every living being,” said Posey. “As such, I strive to radiate kindness, love, and patience in everything I do. Most importantly though, I seek to inspire all of us to live out our truth. I am eternally grateful to the Coeur d‘Alene Police Department and City Prosecutors who worked tirelessly to uphold the truth, and am so appreciative of those in the North Idaho community who rallied behind me in support during this difficult time.”

The suit seeks monetary damages from Bushnell for defamation and defamation by implication in an amount of more than $10,000. Compensatory damages, attorney’s fees, and legal costs are requested, as is a jury trial.

Key Contributors

Cory M. Carone
Wendy J. Olson
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