Comcast Must Reveal Identity of Online Poster

     (CN) – Comcast must reveal the identity of an online commenter who compared a politician to convicted child molester Jerry Sandusky, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled.
     Bill Hadley sued “Fuboy” for defamation in the wake of a comment the unknown individual allegedly made on an article in the online version of the Freeport Journal Standard in 2011.
     The article discussed Hadley returning to local politics by running for a seat on the county board of Stephenson County.
     Fuboy commented one day later, “Hadley is a Sandusky waiting to be exposed. Check out the view he has of Empire (Elementary School) from his front door.”
     In a second online comment, Fuboy stated, “Anybody know the tale of Hadley’s suicide attempt? It is kinda ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ with Pottersville winning out. We can just be happy that Stephenson County is fortunate enough to have this guy want to be of ‘service’ again.
     Hadley sued Fuboy for defamation per se because it imputed the commission of a crime to him, and asked that Comcast reveal Fuboy’s identity.
     The circuit court ruled in favor of Hadley, agreeing with him that Fuboy was referring to disgraced former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, who is in prison for sexually abusing numerous boys.
     The Illinois Court of Appeals upheld the ruling, but the anonymous Fuboy took the case to the Illinois Supreme Court.
     Fuboy argued that Hadley’s lawsuit could not succeed since it used a fictitious name.
     Justice Anne M. Burke, writing on behalf of the seven-justice court, disagreed.
     “Hadley did not make up a fictitious name to identify an unknown defendant,” she wrote. “Fuboy was defendant’s validly assumed alias, and Hadley simply filed suit against that alias.”
     Burke also upheld the appeals court’s determination that Fuboy’s comment accused Hadley of committing a crime.
     “Stating that Hadley was ‘a Sandusky’ while the scandal dominated the national news, coupled with the reference to Empire Elementary School, conveyed the idea that Hadley was a pedophile or had engaged in sexual acts with children and thus, had committed criminal conduct,” Burke wrote.
     The Illinois Supreme Court handed down the decision on June 18 and filed it on July 23.

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