Idaho jury awards more than $1 million to drag performer who was defamed by conservative blogger


A North Idaho jury awarded a drag performer more than $1 million in damages last week after finding a local conservative blogger defamed him.

The jury unanimously determined  that blogger Summer Bushnell defamed Eric Posey, a Post Falls resident who performs as Mona Liza Million, when Bushnell  falsely claimed he exposed his genitals while performing at Coeur d'Alene's Pride in the Park in 2022.

"As Humans we must first learn to love before the change happens. It is everyone's First Amendment right to Freedom of Speech, however, for every action there is an equal or opposite reaction," Posey said in a statement following the verdict. "I am so grateful that the jury was attentive, and that they rejected the lies that put me in a dark place for nearly two years."

Jurors awarded Posey $926,000 in compensatory damages along with an additional $250,000 in punitive damages, finding Bushnell knew her allegations were false when she made them or that the accusations were made with reckless disregard for the truth.

"Can this guy be arrested for exposing his genitals to minors?" Bushnell wrote in one Facebook post, according to Posey's complaint.

She runs The Bushnell Report that describes itself as providing "North Idaho News from a liberty and freedom viewpoint, according to the website.

Bushnell posted online her claims and edited video, in which Posey's pelvic area was blurred.  It went viral, especially in conservative circles. Her claims prompted a police investigation which found that Posey did not expose himself. Prosecutors declined to press charges.

The Pride in the Park event was already national news with dozens of members of the white supremacist group, Patriot Front, being arrested enroute to the celebration.

Posey sued Bushnell for defamation in September 2022. The jury  sided with Posey last week following a five-day trial.

"This is a jury of 12 community members from Kootenai County who unanimously found that Ms. Bushnell defamed Mr. Posey," Posey's attorney, Wendy Olson, said in an interview Tuesday. "It sends message that truth matters and facts matter and you can't dehumanize and defame someone just to serve your own purposes."

Defamation requires significant proof in court, Olson noted. This case is unique because it deals with non-traditional media and social media posts, she said.

The verdict says that even in this new media landscape "juries are going to care, particularly (regarding) statements that accuse people of a crime. (They) have to have facts to support them."

"There's a potential to really do a lot of harm to someone," Olson said.

Bushnell's attorney, D. Colton Boyles, did not respond to request for comment.

Boyles told jurors that his client's allegations were "close to the line" but didn't cross the line to defamation, The Coeur d'Alene Press reported.

Boyles said Bushnell's "honest belief" is that Posey exposed himself, though she admitted on the witness stand that she never saw the "fully exposed genitals" she described to others, according to The Press.

Bushnell's attorney, Boyles, has  his own ties with the far-right .

In an Epoch Times documentary, Boyles pushed deep state conspiracy theories about Child Protective Services, calling it "a state- and federal-funded kidnapping system." In 2021, Boyles donated $500 to Post Falls School Board candidate David Reilly, a former radio host who has expressed antisemitic views and attended the 2017 white supremacist Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The jury asked the judge if they could require Bushnell to take down her posts about Posey and require an apology. The judge, according to The Coeur d'Alene Press, said they couldn't add those requirements.

Bushnell posted an article about the verdict to her Facebook page but has not otherwise publicly acknowledged the ruling.

"It's a pretty clear signal that the jury thought that Ms. Bushnell had harmed Mr. Posey," Olson said .

Many of Bushnell's claims remain posted online, Olson said, each day the falsehoods remain on her website and social media pages, Bushnell continues to defame Posey.

An apology and removing the claims from her website would go a long way, Olson said.

"Mr. Posey suffered tremendous harm over the last two years," Olson said. "It altered his life forever and that information will be on the internet forever and so I think that a public apology that would also be on the internet forever would be helpful."

Following the reading of the verdict, jurors met Posey outside the courthouse to hug him or shake hands.

"I'm really glad you got the justice you deserve," one juror said, embracing Posey, The Press reported.

"I'm so sorry you went through this," another juror said.

The verdict is also a statement about society and what is acceptable, Posey said in his statement.

"To the wonderful, beautiful state of Idaho, and to all my fellow Gems, regardless of differences or opinions, I love you all. There is a lot of work to be done, and I apologize that our state was connected to such vile lies," Posey said. "I would hope that everyone would lead a life of Love, Kindness and Respect. Light will always supersede darkness."


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