LGBT — August 17, 2012 at 9:07 am

Homophobic stalker Andrew Shirvell ordered to pay Chris Armstrong $4.5 million


Shirvelling has its consequences … and its price

Over the past two years, I’ve been following the story of former assistant Attorney General and confirmed stalking homophobe Andrew Shirvell as he made a mockery of our legal system. To recap, he was stalking University of Michigan student body president, Chris Armstrong, posting offensively Photoshopped images on an anti-Armstrong website, writing defamatory things about Armstrong (an openly gay man) and conducting one-man protests outside the home of Shirvell and his friends and family. It got so bad the Shirvell was eventually banned from campus.

Armstrong obtained a personal protection order from Shirvell. He asked for a new judge because the judge he had was the sister of someone who didn’t like him. That was denied. He was fired from his Asst. AG job and then counter-sued Armstrong for that. He tried to have his deposition sealed but was denied that. Armstrong eventually sued him.

Yesterday, a jury awarded Armstrong $4.5 million.

A federal court jury Thursday awarded $4.5 million to an openly gay former University of Michigan student body president who accused a former state attorney of stalking and defaming him. {…}

Standing outside federal court in downtown Detroit shortly after the verdict, Armstrong said he was “elated.”

“This is not just a victory for myself — it’s a victory for a lot of other people,” Armstrong said. “It sends a message to bullies.” {…}

Attorney Deborah Gordon said the jury’s decision came down to holding someone accountable for unacceptable behavior. “It means the community is not going to stand by and watch this happen to another person,” she said.

Armstrong said all along that he would withdraw his lawsuit if Shirvell would simply apologize and retract his statements. That was too much to ask for, apparently, so now Shirvell owes him $4.5 million. Shirvell will obviously not be able to pay that. He’s unemployed and, arguably, unemployable. He’s vowing to take it to the Supreme Court, claiming his 1st Amendment right to defame, stalk, and harass another citizen is being trampled.

It’s not over for this pathetic man. Armstrong also filed an ethics complaint seeking his disbarment. According to LGBTQNation, the state bar’s Attorney Grievance Commission is still investigating Shirvell’s actions.

I know Chris Armstrong. He’s the local staff person in Ann Arbor for the Obama campaign and, in fact, is scheduled to speak at a precinct delegate organizing meeting and training session I’m running tomorrow morning. He’s a kind, caring and energetic activist, a stark contrast to the hateful, small Shirvell. His family has set up a scholarship for bullied students and, should he ever be able to collect on his award, the money will go to that.

As Chris said, this is a victory for bullied students, LGBT or otherwise, across the country. It proves that the 1st Amendment does NOT protect bullies and hateful people when they engage in these types of threatening, demeaning and harmful activities.

Score one for the good guys.

[CC image credit WalkInBoston | Flickr]