Politician Compared to Sandusky May ID User

     (CN) – Comcast must reveal the identity of an Internet commenter who compared an Illinois politician to convicted pedophile Jerry Sandusky, an Illinois appeals court ruled.
     Bill Hadley was a candidate for the Stephenson County board, and the Freeport Journal Standard reported on his campaign in its Dec. 28, 2011, issue.
     Among comments posted to the online version of the article was one in which reader “Fuboy” wrote: “Hadley is a Sandusky waiting to be exposed. Check out the view he has of Empire (Grade School) from his front door.”
     At the time, a two-year grand jury investigation against the then Penn State assistant football coach had just exposed a decades-long pattern of child sexual abuse. Sandusky is now serving 30 to 60 years in prison after his 2012 conviction on 45 counts.
     Hadley sued Fuboy for defamation and subpoenaed Comcast Cable Communications LLC to learn Fuboy’s identity.
     The Stephenson County Circuit Court agreed with Hadley that Fuboy’s comment “imputed the commission of a criminal offense” and was therefore defamatory.
     On appeal, a divided three-judge panel with the Illinois Appellate Court’s Second District affirmed that Fuboy’s comment was not cable of an innocent construction and that, through the Sandusky comment, Fuboy accused Hadley of being a pedophile.
     “It is natural and obvious that calling someone ‘a Sandusky’ while the scandal dominated the national news showed an intent to convey the idea that the ‘Sandusky’ had engaged in yet-to-be-discovered sexual acts with children,” Justice Ann Jorgensen wrote for the majority.
     Justice Joseph Birkett wrote in dissent that the panel lacks jurisdiction of this issue before the defamation trial has taken place.
     “Discovery orders, in both civil and criminal actions, frequently require parties to disclose relevant matters that might otherwise be considered private, yet the party challenging such an order must either wait until final judgment to appeal or test the order by being founds in contempt,” Birkett wrote.

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