lawsuits

Stephen Elliott Sues Moira Donegan, Creator of Shitty Media Men List

Photo: GERARD JULIEN/AFP/Getty Images

Stephen Elliott, a New Orleans–based writer is suing Moira Donegan, the creator of the Shitty Media Men List for libel and emotional distress. Elliott filed documents at the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York on October 10 and is seeking at least $1.5 million in damages.

“Upon information and belief, Defendants conspired to create the Google Spreadsheet entitled ‘Shitty Media Men’ and circulated the link to the List via email, without password protection, for the stated purpose of encouraging the female recipients to anonymously publish allegations of sexual misconduct by men,” reads the complaint. “The wholly unsubstantiated allegations published in the List, particularly with regard to allegations about Plaintiff, contained numerous false statements alleging criminal sexual conduct on the part of Plaintiff.”

According to the suit, Elliott also intends to sue other women who contributed to the Google spreadsheet (who he names as “Jane Does”), which briefly circulated last October and contained the names of over of 70 men who were anonymously accused of sexual misconduct, ranging from rape to harassment: “Plaintiff believes that information obtained in discovery will reveal the Jane Doe Defendants’ true names, addresses and other identifying information and allow Plaintiff to amend this Complaint to state the same”.

Elliott intends to subpeona the Google metadata for the list in order to obtain this information:

Plaintiff will know, through initial discovery, the names, email addresses, pseudonyms and/or “Internet handles” used by Jane Doe Defendants to create the List, enter information into the List, circulate the List, and otherwise publish information in the List or publicize the List. Through discovery, Plaintiff can obtain the email address information, Google account, Internet Protocol (“IP”) address assigned to the accounts used by the Jane Doe Defendants by the account holders’ Internet Service Provider (“ISP”), email accounts and/or Google accounts, on the date and time at which the Posts were published and/or information was entered into the List. Plaintiff intends to subpoena the shared Google spreadsheet metadata for the List, email accounts, Google accounts and ISPs in order to learn the identity of the account holders for the email addresses and IP addresses.

Elliott’s name appeared next to several anonymous accusations on the spreadsheet, ranging from “rape” to “unsolicited invitations to his apartment.” Earlier this month, he published a nearly 2,600 word long essay titled “How an Anonymous Allegation Derailed My Life” in which he vehemently denied the allegations and described the effects the spreadsheet has had on his life. That same day, one of his former co-workers responded to Elliott’s defense on Twitter.

Elliott has acquired attorney Andrew Miltenberg of Nesenoff & Mittenberg LLP, a high-profile lawyer who has made a name for himself defending men accused of sexual assault, and advocating for the roll-back of Title IX protections. Miltenberg has represented more than 70 students in college disciplinary hearings. One of his best-known clients is Paul Nungesser, who Emma Skulkowitz accused of rape in April 2013. “Before, the playing field was tilted against women, and now it’s tilted against men,” he told the Cut in 2015.

Elliott’s suit is the only legal action to have taken place in the aftermath of the controversial spreadsheet. In her essay on the Cut, Donegan explained the rationale for creating the document. “In the beginning, I only wanted to create a place for women to share their stories of harassment and assault without being needlessly discredited or judged,” she wrote. “The hope was to create an alternate avenue to report this kind of behavior and warn others without fear of retaliation.”

Donegan declined to comment.