$1.1M awarded to Idaho drag performer who filed defamation lawsuit against far-right blogger

Francis Akhalbey May 27, 2024
Far-right blogger Summer Bushnell falsely accused Eric Posey (pictured) of exposing himself to a crowd during a drag performance -- Photo Credit: Eric Posey/Boise Weekly

An Idaho drag performer was on Friday awarded more than $1.1 million in damages by a jury after he filed a defamation lawsuit against a far-right blogger who wrongly accused him of exposing his genitals to a crowd at a 2022 Pride event. 

Per the Coeur D’Alene Press, the plaintiff Eric Posey claimed he was subjected to harassment and received death threats after blogger Summer Bushnell shared a video claiming he exposed his genitals while he was performing in drag at the Coeur d’Alene City Park bandshell in June 2022.

The jury ultimately determined Bushnell defamed Posey when she made those allegations. “The judicial system did what needed to be done,” Posey said in response to the verdict. 

Posey was awarded $926,000 in compensatory damages for defamation. He was also awarded an additional $250,000 in punitive damages after the jury determined Posey provided evidence that Bushnell was aware her allegations were untrue or she leveled the accusations with “reckless disregard” for the truth.

During the pride event, authorities arrested and charged several members of the Patriot Front White supremacist group who had converged around the location. Bushnell subsequently addressed the arrests in a video that she shared. 

“Why did no one arrest the man in a dress who flashed his genitalia to minors and people in the crowd?” the far-right blogger questioned in the video. “No one said anything about it and there’s video. I’m going to put up a blurred video to prove it.”

Bushnell posted a doctored video she got from a videographer the following day. Posey’s pelvis had been blurred in the video, and Bushnell claimed the blur had covered Posey’s “fully exposed genitals.” She also called on people to get in touch with the police, the Coeur D’Alene Press reported. 

The doctored video amassed thousands of views, made national headlines, and also triggered an investigation by the police. But city prosecutors later opted not to bring any charges and announced the original video did not show Posey had exposed himself to the crowd. 

“The jury’s verdict demonstrates a clear message to this community that you have to be truthful,” one of Posey’s attorneys, Wendy J. Olsen, said. “The jury did good, hard work. They rendered a tremendous service to the community.”

Posey also said the support he received from his friends helped him pull through that ordeal. “Imagine being in a dark hole where you have nobody and you felt the whole world turn their back on you,” Posey told the court on Thursday. “But somehow, you were surrounded by warriors, true people of Idaho — not transplants, true people of this soil. I am fortunate to say I have people like that around me, people that lifted me up.”

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: May 27, 2024


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