Twitter to reveal anonymous accuser to All Time Low – Rolling Stone
When all times LOW filed a libel suit last February reject anonymous claims of alleged sex abusethe pop-punk band said it planned to use the court’s subpoena power in an aggressive bid to unmask its accusers.
This week, a Los Angeles judge sided with the band members and gave Twitter 10 days to hand over “identifying information” to Jane Doe 2, the person behind the account that posted the lengthy statement in October 2021 — the most detailed first-person account of alleged abuse referenced in the lawsuit.
In the post, a person using the handle @ATLstatement claimed to be a woman who was sexually abused by the band’s lead guitarist, Jack Barakatin 2011 when she was 15 years old and he was 22.
“Plaintiffs cannot proceed with litigation without identifying Doe 2,” Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Daniel S. Murphy wrote in his new order obtained by Rolling stones.
Judge Murphy stated that while the right to publish anonymously is protected by the First Amendment, free speech does not extend to defamation. This means that plaintiffs who bring “legally sufficient” lawsuits have the right to “discover” the identity of their alleged defamers.
“Here, the complaint states a valid claim because it sets forth the exact statements alleged to be defamatory, alleges that they are false, and alleges that defendant made the statements with actual malice,” Judge Murphy wrote.
“Plaintiffs deny under oath the allegations in Doe 2’s Twitter posts,” he continued. “Injury is presumed without the need for proof in libel per se where a statement is defamatory on its face, such as allegations of sexual assaults. Nevertheless, plaintiffs claim they have suffered loss of reputation, goodwill and lost revenue. Therefore, the complaint states a valid claim for libel in itself.”
Twitter fought the subpoena as a matter of internal policy, saying it would release Doe 2’s identity only if served with a court order.
The social media giant previously provided notice of the lawsuit to Doe 2 without coughing up a name or contact information. When Doe 2 failed to respond within a court deadline, lawyers for All Time Low asked Twitter to hand over the identifying information.
“The court finds that Doe 2 has been adequately notified and given an opportunity to respond,” Judge Murphy wrote. “Within 10 days, Twitter must provide the requested identifying information for Doe 2.”
Attorneys for All Time Low declined to comment Friday.
All four founding members of All Time Low are listed as plaintiffs in the underlying lawsuit filed last year, including Barakat, singer and guitarist Alex Gaskarth, bassist Zack Merrick and drummer Rian Dawson. The Doe defendants include at least three individuals who alleged in anonymous social media posts that one or more group members committed or were complicit in the grooming and sexual abuse of fans, including minors.
The Maryland-bred quartet issued a total statement in October 2021 calls the online claims “absolutely and unequivocally false.”
“We are further investigating the source of these false allegations and will seek legal redress as we take these allegations very seriously. With that in mind, we want to say again that we stand with the victims and always want to amplify their voices and stories, who have suffered abuse and trauma. But we cannot and will not fuel or reinforce lies that only cloud and distort the true stories of those who need to be heard and represented,” read the statement from All Time Low .
The nine-page complaint filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court said the band wanted to “repeal these malicious lies so they will not be repeated in the future.”
The allegations against the band began to go viral late last year after Doe 1, a TikTok user, posted a cryptic message under the name @mini.grew who claimed that “a famous pop-punk band” offered her beer on a tour bus and asked for her bra “for their nasty collection” when she was 13.
The post did not explicitly name the band but “provided easily resolved clues” that led to a consensus that the group was All Time Low, the band’s lawsuit said.
According to the complaint, a Twitter user named @spidahkii quickly came forward to refute Doe 1’s claims. She claimed to have attended the concert with Doe 1, shared a photo purportedly showing them at the event and said Doe 1’s claims “never happened.” The lawsuit alleges that Doe 1 then admitted that she posted her statements “to be petty to a peer” and made her video private.
A few weeks later, @ATLstatement posted the subsequent allegations that Barakat had sexually assaulted her over a period of years beginning when she was a minor.
Later that month, another Twitter user with the handle @dietsodasage posted a tweet claiming to have counted 97 charges against the band. “If 97 people isn’t enough I don’t know what to tell you,” wrote the user, identified as Doe 3.
“With no evidence whatsoever, Doe 3 wildly and falsely claimed that ’97 charges’ had been filed against the band, an accusation that spread like wildfire on the Internet,” the lawsuit claimed.
The Twitter account has since been deactivated, but the lawsuit includes a screenshot of a post attributed to @dietsodasage that reads, “I feel a little weird how people took my tweet about the atl situation :/ I didn’t mean anything. to go like that , so I’ll probably stay private for a few days.”
In a recent lawsuit, Twitter said it does not have identifying information for @dietsodasage.
David M. Ring, an attorney representing a Harvey Weinstein accuser in his criminal trial in Los Angeles said Rolling stones that defamation suits like the one filed by All Time Low amount to “bold power plays” and open up a two-way street for legal scrutiny.
“This is not something that anyone will enter into lightly. I guarantee that they have been advised that by filing a lawsuit, they are opening themselves up to discovery that will include all of the allegations that were made online ,” Ring said last year. “By filing a lawsuit, it looks like they’re going in voluntarily, knowing their background will be investigated, and they don’t care. Apparently they are not afraid.”