Texas Couple Wins $13.7 Million over Anonymous Libelous Comments

iMediaEthics publishes international media ethics news stories and investigations into journalism ethics lapses.


Home » Internet Ethics»

Comments on Topix.com led to a hefty libel payout. (Credit: Topix.com, screenshot)

A Texas couple named Mark and Rhonda Lesher won $13.7 million after filing a libel case over anonymous online comments, Courthouse News reported.

The Leshers were accused of “rape, drug dealing and molestation” in online comments on “Topix, an Internet community bulletin board.”

ABC News noted that “the couple, along with a man who works on their ranch, were accused of sexual assault,” but all three were found “not guilty on all charges” three years ago.  The comments were made before they were cleared of the charges.

Because of the comments, the couple “closed their businesses and moved.”  Courthouse News Service explained that the couple originally filed “against 178 unknown Internet users, which was narrowed down to Shannon Coyel, Gerald Coyel, Charlie Doescher and Pat Doescher of Kennedale.”

The New York Daily News noted that Shannon Coyel was “the couple’s accuser” in court and Gerard Coyel is her husband.

Submit a tip / Report a problem

Texas Couple Wins $13.7 Million over Anonymous Libelous Comments

Share this article: