(CN) – A New Jersey man is entitled to his day in court to try to prove that his nephew damaged his reputation with online allegations of sexual abuse, a New Jersey appellate division ruled.
The nephew, D.A., made the allegations in 1988 against his uncle, W.J.A., claiming abuse that took place when the nephew was a minor.
The uncle filed counterclaims of libel, slander, extortion and infliction of emotional distress.
Although the nephew’s claim was barred by the statute of limitations, the uncle prevailed on his claim of defamatory statements the nephew made to police.
The nephew went bankrupt, and he faced more than $90,000 in damages that could not be discharged in bankruptcy court. He filed a motion for relief and created a website to discuss the allegations.
This time, the uncle’s defamation claim failed, because the trial court ruled that he did not prove damages to his reputation.
The state appeals court reversed, ruling that the uncle must have some remedy for the nephew’s Internet statements, the defamatory nature of which was not in dispute.
“Dismissal of the action at that stage … provides defendant with a license to defame,” Judge Paulette Sapp-Peterson wrote. “If there has been a wrong, there should be a remedy, and the time-honored approach of allowing such a case to be decided by a jury … does not offend us.”