STEUBENVILLE - The family of a Steubenville High School student has filed a lawsuit in Jefferson County Common Pleas Court against the the operator of an Internet blog site claiming their son has been defamed in connection with a rape investigation.
Cody Saltsman and his parents, James and Johna Saltsman, filed the lawsuit through their attorney, Shawn Blake, seeking an injunction to force Alexandria Goddard of Columbus, who runs the blog site prinniefied.com, to remove alleged false and defamatory statements from the blog site. The Saltsmans also are seeking monetary damages in excess of $25,000.
Trent Mays, 16, of Bloomingdale and Malik Richmond, 16, of Steubenville have been charged with rape in connection with a sexual assault in August. Mays also faces a charge of illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material.
A hearing has been scheduled for Thursday in juvenile court to determine if Mays and Richmond will be charged as adults or the case will remain in juvenile court.
The lawsuit claims Goddard created several blogs on her Internet site regarding the sexual assault. The lawsuit also names 15 people as defendants by the fictitious names they created and registered on the blog.
The lawsuit states Goddard has control over her Internet site and can publish or remove any comments posted by registered users. Goddard has knowledge of the registered user's Internet protocol addresses, as well as their e-mail addresses, and can ban their postings, the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit contains postings that Blake claims are false and defamatory to the Saltsmans, including that Cody Saltsman was the "mastermind" and "orchestrator" of the sexual assault and also participated.
One posting from "HEARTSICK" states, "I think if the legal system does not get Cody, someone will take it upon themselves to 'get him.'"
The lawsuit states the false and defamatory statements were published with the intent to harm the Saltsmans' good names and reputations by falsely accusing them of criminal acts.
"Since their postings, the false and defamatory statements published by defendants regarding (the Saltsmans) have remained available to millions of Internet users, many of whom may have made copies of the false and defamatory statements and/or distributed them by electronic mail or other means and/or reposted them to other blogs, Internet forums and message boards, and (the Saltsmans) have no means of removing these false and defamatory statements from the Internet," the lawsuit states.
"The making of such false, defamatory and libelous statements by defendants was so outrageous in character and so extreme in degree as to go beyond all possible bounds of decency, and to be regarded as atrocious and utterly intolerable in a civilized community," the lawsuit states.
Blake in his lawsuit is seeking an injunction to prevent Goddard and the other as yet unknown defendants from disseminating any false and defamatory statements regarding the Saltsmans. The lawsuit wants Jefferson County Common Pleas Judge David Henderson, who was assigned the case, to issue an order for defendants to remove the alleged false and defamatory statements regarding the Saltsmans from the Internet.
The lawsuit also wants the court to issue an order forcing the defendants to post a retraction of all alleged false and defamatory statements published on Goddard's blog, and for Goddard and other defendants to write an apology to be published in the newspaper and on local television. Goddard failed to respond to an e-mail requesting a comment on the lawsuit.
(Law can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)