Abusive Sheik Case Appealed to 1st Circuit | Courthouse News Service
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Abusive Sheik Case Appealed to 1st Circuit

(CN) - A man who claims that a Dubai ruler came on to him and then whipped him publicly for rejecting those advances wants the 1st Circuit to revive his lawsuit.

Silvano Orsi, an Italian-American businessman, said he met Sheik Falah bin Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan, the half-brother of the president of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), in 2003 at a hotel in Geneva, Switzerland. At the time, Orsi was a partner at a Swiss-incorporated consulting firm, according to court documents.

Orsi claimed that he was entertaining a Saudi Arabian business associate in the hotel's lounge when Al-Nahyan made overt and aggressive sexual advances.

The sheik told Orsi that he "enjoyed the feeling of being submissive to bigger men," and sent an expensive bottle of French champagne to Orsi's table, though Orsi told Al-Nahyan that he did not drink alcohol, according to the federal complaint.

When Orsi told his waiter to thank Al-Nahyan, but left the champagne unopened, Al-Nahyan sat on the armrest of Orsi's chair and "attempted to lick, kiss, and fondle Mr. Orsi while repeatedly calling Mr. Orsi a 'stupid American' and 'stupid Italian' for having dared refuse him," the lawsuit states.

When Orsi rejected the advances, Al-Nahyan "jumped forcefully" onto his lap, smashed his glasses, and then whipped him with a belt and belt buckle in front of dozens of hotel patrons, Orsi claimed.

The hotel allegedly did nothing to help Orsi, and Al-Nahyan's agents made threats long after the event, according to the complaint.

Orsi insisted he never called Al-Nahyan "gay," a statement Orsi said the sheik invented to explain his "barbaric" assault.

In 2006, Al-Nahyan was indicted in Geneva for assault and battery, but his 2008 conviction was later overturned.

U.S. District Judge Douglas Woodlock dismissed Orsi's defamation lawsuit in 2012, finding the court lacked jurisdiction to hear the case because "none of the events from August 19, 2003 - the day of the incident - can establish contacts with Massachusetts."

In his appeal to the 1st Circuit, Orsi claimed that his "strong and progressive connection to Massachusetts begins May 1, 2009, via the establishment of an important and/or legal relationship with Massachusetts' leading U.S. House Congressional Representative, Congressman Jim McGovern (D-MA)."

McGovern, a co-chair of the Houses' Human Rights Commission, allegedly opened an investigation into Orsi's allegations, as part of the commission's investigation of torture in the UAE. In 2009, a leaked video showed Sheik Falah Al-Nahyan's half-brother, Sheik Issa, torturing a man with whips and electric cattle prods.

UAE officials allegedly spoke directly with McGovern and made defamatory statements about Orsi, "wrongly labeling appellant as a drunk and casting him in a false light, even attempting to paint appellant as a violent 'bar-room brawler.'"

Orsi said he continued to receive threats from Al-Nahyan's agents while he was a student in Massachusetts.

"Application of the MA Long Arm Statute to the very particular facts of the instant case, does not otherwise offend any constitutional notions of fair play and substantial justice, as those principles have been elucidated by the Supreme Court in McGee v. International Life Insurance, which is instructive in determining the degree of contact necessary in order to hold a non-resident defendant to account in MA, in cases where the contact with the MA forum relates to the dispute at bar," the brief states.

Orsi also decried the "unnecessary demeaning tone" of Woodlock's dismissal order, and said that it "erred in failing to address the very important and ripe homosexuality and/or homophobia-related defamation law questions that appellant's case presents for clarification, which absolutely necessitate... [addressing] the issue of whether falsely labeling someone a 'homophobe' is to be considered defamation per se in MA."

In a statement to Courthouse News, Orsi slammed Al-Nahyan for attempting "every cowardly means possible to evade justice and process service, in both the United States and Switzerland."

"I shall continue to relentlessly seek justice in this matter, as we all have the right to enjoy a peaceful existence, without harm and defamation, and most certainly, without being violently belt-whipped by a barbaric delinquent, when attempting to have dinner in a hotel restaurant," Orsi said.

"Advanced democracies with independent legal systems do not permit torture, ill-treatment, defamation, harm and/or disrespect for an individual's rights, just because one person has more oil or a higher social rank than the other," he added. "This is the 21st century where such conduct and impunity should no longer be permissible nor tolerated. Justice is blind and it shall be served in equality, under the rule of law, and rightly so."

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