I-Team: NY Blogger Unmasked and Sued for Libel Wants Court Case Public - NBC New York
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I-Team: NY Blogger Unmasked and Sued for Libel Wants Court Case Public

A Rockland County blogger seeking to uncover crimes in the Jewish community has revealed herself

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Sued NY Blogger Fights to Make Sealed Records Public

    A blogger outed and sued for defamation by two powerful New York businessman was in a Brooklyn courtroom trying to get sealed records made public. It's the latest twist in a blogger battle. Sarah Wallace reports.

    (Published Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2018)

    What to Know

    • Julie Globus is publicly identifying herself as the anonymous blogger who'd been writing under the name LostMessiah

    • The Rockland County woman had been seeking to "uncover crimes, misdeeds and abuses within segments of the Jewish community"

    • Now she's facing a libel lawsuit, being accused of defamation. But she wants the case file unsealed

    Julie Globus is now owning the name: LostMessiah.

    For two and a half years, the Rockland County resident -- a wife, mother and attorney -- wrote an anonymous blog under that name. The blog’s stated purpose: "To uncover crimes, misdeeds and abuses within segments of the Jewish community in the hopes of effectuating change."

    In an exclusive interview, Globus told the I-Team she had two separate focuses: "One was on the ultra-Orthodox community, and the money -- where it was coming and going? And I was focusing on sexual abuse. I think there is a need to hold myself and others within that religious community accountable."

    Globus said she wanted to remain anonymous to protect her family."The subject matter that I was touching on was really dangerous stuff, like police corruption. Russian diamond smuggling."

    Controversy Swirls Around Outed NY Blogger Court Case

    [NY] Controversy Swirls Around Outed NY Blogger Court Case

    An anonymous blogger was outed, then sued for defamation by powerful real estate moguls in New York. Now there's a growing battle over secrecy surrounding this court case. Sarah Wallace reports.

    (Published Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2018)

    But now, the 48-year-old has been outed and she wants it to be on her terms.

    In August, she was served with a libel lawsuit filed on behalf of two real estate titans, Louis and Joel Kestenbaum, and their company, Fortis Property Group. The suit accuses Globus of writing two false articles in 2016 and perpetuating the defamation by reposting the offending articles on another site. 

    Months before the suit was filed, a state Supreme Court Justice in Brooklyn, Wavny Toussaint, had already ruled that one of the articles was false, and ordered the host blog site Wordpress not only to take it down, but also to release LostMessiah’s personal information.

    Said Globus’ attorney, Henry Kaufman,  "She didn’t have any chance to defend her article before it was taken down by order of the court without having heard our side."

    The lead attorney for the plaintiffs, Anthony Genovesi Jr., asked the court to seal many of the court documents to "avoid re-victimizing my clients by perpetuating the harmful falsehoods." That request was preliminarily granted pending further hearing.

    He said in a statement, "My clients are victims of cowardly, anonymously published falsehoods. The defamation lawsuit is an effort to hold the responsible parties accountable."

    In court papers, Genovesi labels Globus an "internet troll" who "publishes lies on the internet with the sole intention of ruining lives for sport."

    Globus said she can’t talk specifically about the alleged defamation, except to say that she relied on what to her were reliable sources. She now wants the case file unsealed. 

    "It puts us all in darkness. It’s a slippery slope, how far can you go to start sealing records of things," she said.

    UCLA law professor and scholar Eugene Volokh has now jumped into the First Amendment fray, filing his own motion to oppose any sealing of documents in the case. 

    "The plaintiff is trying to short-circuit this discussion by trying to get the case sealed. So they’re trying to get this whole issue litigated in the dark. That’s not the way the American court system generally works," Volokh said.

    Kaufman said, "They want it sealed because there’s embarrassing material. But that’s not a good enough standard to protect because every defamation case would be sealed."

    Globus is blogging more than ever.

    "Look, I’m outed, it made more sense to me to step up and say, 'Here I am.' I wanted the narrative to be my narrative and not their narrative."

    Both sides were scheduled to be in court before Judge Toussaint on Dec. 5.

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