A drag performer in Idaho is suing the blogger he says falsely accused him of exposing his genitals at the Pride in the Park event in Coeur d'Alene.
Eric Posey, whose drag name is Mona Liza Million, performed June 11 at Pride in the Park. Right-wing Idaho blogger Summer Bushnell posted altered video of his appearance, blurring his groin "to make it appear as if he exposed himself," says a press release from Stoel Rives, the law firm representing Posey.
The edited video attracted 20,000 views on social media. People who'd seen it -- none of whom had been at the event -- contacted local police and urged them to investigate. The City of Coeur d'Alene Prosecuting Attorney's Office reviewed both the edited and unedited versions and found that the unedited one did not show any genital exposure. "The allegations of indecent exposure, or other crimes cannot be supported by the evidence. Therefore, prosecution is declined," said a statement issued by the office July 1, according to TV station KHQ.
Now Posey is suing Bushnell, saying she defamed him. "After three months of silence, it is now my turn to speak," Posey said in the press release. "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. 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."
The suit was filed Tuesday in the Idaho District Court for Kootenai County. It asserts that Bushnell sought to capitalize on national attention that came to Pride in the Park when members of the white supremacist group Patriot Front tried to disrupt the event. More than 30 were arrested.
It seeks monetary damages from Bushnell for defamation and defamation by implication in an amount of more than $10,000. It also seeks compensatory damages, attorney's fees, and legal costs, and requests a jury trial.
"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 Stoel Rives attorney Wendy J. Olson, who is representing Posey along with colleague Cory M. Carone. "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," Posey added. "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."