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A drag performer was awarded $1.1M after a blogger falsely accused him of exposing himself to minors during a Pride event

Joshua Zitser   

A drag performer was awarded $1.1M after a blogger falsely accused him of exposing himself to minors during a Pride event
  • An Idaho jury awarded a drag performer $1,176,000 for defamation.
  • The performer was falsely accused by a right-wing blogger of exposing himself to minors.

An Idaho jury awarded a drag performer $1,176,000 in damages after finding that a right-wing blogger defamed him by falsely claiming that he exposed himself to minors at an LGBTQ+ Pride event.

The Kootenai County District Court jury unanimously ruled on Friday that Summer Bushnell defamed Eric Posey, whose drag name is Mona Liza Million, by posting a doctored video from an event at Coeur d'Alene City Park in June 2022, according to the Coeur d'Alene Press.

The Pride event made headlines on June 11, 2022, when law enforcement arrested members of the white nationalist organization Patriot Front who were protesting nearby.

Bushnell posted a video on social media discussing the arrests.

According to the Coeur d'Alene Press, she said: "Why did no one arrest the man in a dress who flashed his genitalia to minors and people in the crowd?"

A day later, she posted a doctored video of Posey she had received from a local videographer, the local news outlet reported.

It showed Posey with a blurred patch over his crotch, which Bushnell claimed was covering his "fully exposed genitals," according to the Coeur d'Alene Press.

The video gained thousands of views and led to a police investigation. City prosecutors did not press charges.

Posey, who performed three times that day, was wearing a leotard, black shorts, tights, and a rainbow boa. According to the drag performer's lawsuit, he never removed any articles of clothing during the performances.

Nonetheless, Posey said during the five-day trial that the false allegations led to death threats and harassment, per the Coeur d'Alene Press.

In an email to Business Insider, Posey said: "I am so grateful that the jury was attentive and that they rejected the lies that put me in a dark place."

In a September 2022 press statement, the drag performer said the video continued to be spread even after he had been cleared of wrongdoing, "not only defaming me but also inciting a backlash towards the LGBTQIA+ community statewide."

Although Idaho does not restrict drag performances, Republicans in other states have pushed for legislation to limit where drag artists can perform.

According to GLAAD, the legislative push has coincided with dozens of incidents of anti-LGBTQ protests and threats targeting drag events, including bomb threats, over the past couple of years.

Some of these incidents have involved violence, weapons, or extremist groups, as was the case in Couer d'Alene.

According to the Couer d'Alene Press, the Idaho jury deliberated for about three-and-a-half hours before awarding $926,000 in compensatory damages for defamation.

The outlet reported that the jury awarded an additional $250,000 in punitive damages because Posey proved that Bushnell knew her allegations were false and were made with "reckless regard."

According to the lawsuit, Bushnell knew the video was false because she had seen the unedited version and sent a link to the City of Coeur d'Alene.

Wendy Olsen, a partner at law firm Stoel Rives who acted as legal counsel for Posey, said in a statement provided to BI that the jury's verdict "sends the clear message that truth matters, that facts matter, and that you can't dehumanize and damage someone to suit your own purposes."

The legal team representing Bushnell did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider.


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