Joel Vangheluwe, who was wrongly named as the driver behind the Charlottesville attack that killed Heather Heyer and injured more than a dozen others, is now suing the conservative sites that wrongly identified him — GOT News, Freedom Daily, Gateway Pundit, Puppet String News, Studio News Network — as well as tweeters who shared the false identifications.
Back in August, the Vangheluwe’s lawyer, Andrew Sommerman, told iMediaEthics that the family was considering suing over the false reports. The car used in the attack had been, years earlier, owned by Vangheluwe but, as Sommerman said at the time, the elder Vangheluwe sold the car back in 2012 and that the younger never owned the car. He added that it was possible they were linked to the attack simply because the son had posted anti-Trump posts on social media. GOT News retracted its story and Gateway Pundit deleted its report.
Vangheluwe and his father, Jerome Vangheluwe, filed the lawsuit alleging they were “falsely accused of assault, terrorism, conspiracies, murder, and racially charged violence.” The lawsuit notes that the elder Vangheluwe sold the car “years earlier” and it was “sold several more times” before the attack.
“The flood of misinformation resulted in injury to both Joel and Jerome Vangheluwe,” the lawsuit states. “They received death threats and were urged by Michigan State Police to leave their home for fear of their safety. The injury to their reputations and businesss aspirations is astronomical.”
The lawsuit was filed against GOT News and its editor Charles C. Johnson; Freedom Daily and its writers Alberto Waisman and Jeffrey Rainforth; Gateway Pundit’s editor Jim Hoft; David Petersen, who runs the Puppet String News website and social media accounts; Jonathan Spiel (aka Jon Masters), who runs the Studio News Network website and YouTube page; Washington Times columnist Shirley Husar; and tweeters and individuals Eduardo Doitteau (@ed_doitteau), Lita Coulthart-Villanueva (@clitav), Kenneth Strawn (@strawn_04), Christoher Hastey (@chrishastey), Conn Comeaux (@ConnieComeaux), Gavin McInnes (@Gavin_McInnes), tweeter Richard Weikart (@RichWeikart), Paul Nehlen, Patrick Lehnhoff, Beth Eyestone, Lori Twohy, Raechel Hitchye, and Christopher Jones. Nehlen is running for Congress in Wisconsin, but was recently suspended from Twitter after he was accused of racist tweets.
iMediaEthics has tweeted all the parties listed with active Twitter handles, and written to the various websites for a response to the lawsuit. Studio News Network responded that, “I have heard nothing from anyone about a law suit” before iMediaEthics’ inquiry.
Hat Tip: The Hill