In October 2017, a Google document containing a list of “Sh*tty Media Men” began circulating as a way for those working in the industry to anonymously warn others about men with a history of misogyny, sexual harassment, or sexual assault. A journalist named Moira Donegan later wrote that she had created the list, and her confession led to a legal battle with one of the men named on the list. Now, Google is reportedly preventing this man from learning the names of those who accused him.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, author Stephen Elliott is currently suing Donegan along with 30 unnamed women for libel after he was accused of rape, sexual harassment, and coercion. Elliott filed his lawsuit in October 2018, but on January 23rd, he submitted a motion asking the court to demand that Google release the names of all people who accessed the list, all electronic communications about the list, and all versions of the list.
THR notes that when Elliott first filed his suit and announced his intention to subpoena Google for the identities of his accusers, the tech company pledged to “oppose any attempt by Mr. Elliott to obtain information about this document from us.” And it appears that the tech giant will keep its word. In a memo obtained by The Cut, Google attorney Randy Tyler reportedly condemned the efforts as “objectionable,” “invalid,” and “unduly burdensome.”
THR previously reported that Donegan’s lawyer, Roberta Kaplan of the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund, was seeking to file a motion to dismiss the case. In a letter requesting a New York judge, Kaplan pointed out that Donegan could only be convicted of defamation if she believed the claims against Elliott were untrue and published them anyway. Elliott has defended himself by claiming that since he is sexually “submissive,” he can’t be guilty of rape. In her letter, Kaplan wrote that “this ‘too submissive to rape’ defense is obviously absurd.”
As always, we stand with survivors, and we applaud Google for its commitment to users’ privacy.