Daily Stormer publisher incited his readers to contact Tanya Gersh, who received threatening emails, texts and voicemails
The publisher of a neo-Nazi website, who organized a troll storm to target a Jewish woman and her family with months of abusive messages, should have to pay more than $14m in damages and remove all posts that encouraged his readers to contact her, a US judge has recommended.
The US magistrate judge called the harassment campaign, launched by the Daily Stormer publisher Andrew Anglin a month before Donald Trumps inauguration, egregious and reprehensible. Anglin targeted Tanya Gersh, a Jewish real estate agent in Whitefish, Montana, a town where the prominent white nationalist Richard Spencer and his family have sometimes lived.
The trolls claimed that Gersh had unfairly targeted Sherry Spencer, Richard Spencers mother, over the actions of her white nationalist son, who had recently been greeted with Nazi salutes when he shouted Hail Trump! Hail our people! Hail victory! at a conference in Washington.
The neo-Nazi website posted Gershs name, address, and contact information, along with photographs of her and her 12-year-old son, photoshopped against an image of the Auschwitz concentration camp, and encouraged followers to contact her. The website claimed that the comments were protected by freedom of speech.
Gersh said she received threatening emails, text and voicemails, including promises to drive her to suicide and endless references to being thrown in the oven, being gassed.
Ive been told: You really should have died in the Holocaust with the rest of your people, Gersh said in a 2017 interview with the Guardian. Sometimes, when I answered the phone, all I heard were gunshots.
She said she had to stop working, because she was afraid to expose her real estate clients to harassment, and afraid of being targeted by someone posing as a potential buyer.
US magistrate judge Jeremiah Lynch said that Gersh deserves $10m in punitive damages, the maximum amount in punitive damages allowed under Montana law, because of the particularly egregious and reprehensible nature of Anglins conduct. The judge also said she should be awarded $4m more for lost earnings and pain and suffering.
The magistrate judge does not have the final word in the case. His findings and recommendations must be approved by US district judge Dana Christensen to take effect. Even if Christensen approves Lynchs recommendations, it is questionable whether Gersh will see a dime if Anglin remains outside the reach of US authorities.
Anglin, who claims to live outside the US, was found in default when he did not show up for a deposition scheduled in April. His attorneys withdrew from the case when he failed to appear.
Anglin did not immediately return an email seeking comment.
He had argued unsuccessfully through his attorneys that his writings were protected by the first amendment.
This lawsuit has always been about stopping others from enduring the terror I continue to live through at the hands of a neo-Nazi and his followers, and I wanted to make sure that this never happens to anyone else, Gersh said in a statement.
Anglin faces default judgments in at least three other federal cases, including lawsuits filed by two other alleged targets of his online trolling campaigns. In one, a federal judge in Ohio last month awarded the Muslim-American radio host Dean Obeidallah $4.1m after Anglin falsely accused him of terrorism.
This is the kind of WHITE NATIONALISM we elected him for, Anglin was quoted as saying.
The Associated Press contributed reporting
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