Imagine having an assistant state attorney general harassing you, even including following you around and showing up where you live.
That’s what happened to the University of Michigan’s first openly gay student body president.
Late this week, a federal court jury in Detroit awarded $4.5 million to Chris Armstrong, a recent graduate of the University of Michigan and the campus’ first openly gay student body president, who was harassed and stalked by the former Michigan assistant attorney general Andrew Shirvell in early 2010.
Shirvell was found guilty of defamation, stalking, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and invasion of privacy on Thursday. After Armstrong was elected student body president, Shirvell took to his personal blog called “The Chris Armstrong Watch” to write defamatory comments about the student, whom he accused of being a “radical homosexual activist, racist, elitist, and liar,” and wrote about the student holding orgies and having sex in children’s playgrounds and other public places.
Oh, one of those blogs so focused on you that they have your name on them. And along with having your name on them, they accuse you of every crime and bad quality and awkward flaw and physical inadequacy the blogger can think of. Somehow you never expect blogs like that to be written by an assistant state AG. Or the president, or the Secretary of State, or the pope.
So how extremely peculiar. And…nasty.
Shirvell didn’t stop at blog posts though. He eventually began following the student on campus and showing up at his house. The lawyer was temporarily banned from the University of Michigan campus at that time.
In a 2010 CNN interview, Shirvell tried to defend his actions saying, “I’m a Christian citizen exercising my First Amendment rights.”
Good god – he’s an officer of the law and he thinks he has a First Amendment to libel and stalk people?
The lawyer was fired from the attorney general’s office in 2010 for misusing his work day hours (which were paid for by state funds), as well as violating office polices and engaging in “borderline stalking behavior.”
Well, no doubt he can have a productive career harassing people on Twitter.