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Right-wing blogger is forced to pay Idaho drag queen $1.1 million

InIdahoEric Posey, opdrag artist from Post Falls, has been awarded more than $1.1 million in a defamation lawsuit against conservative blogger Summer Bushnell.

The Associated Pressreports that a jury unanimously found that Bushnell defamed Posey by falsely accusing him of exposing him to minors at a 2022 election rally Pride event.

The jury awarded Posey, who performs as drag queen Mona Liza Million, $926,000 in compensatory damages and an additional $250,000 in compensatory damages. Bushnell’s false claims stemmed from a Pride in the Park event in Coeur d’Alene in June 2022, where she posted a video claiming Posey exposed his genitals during a performance. She followed up with an edited video that blurred Posey’s pelvic area, suggesting nudity, which she shared widely online.

Related: Drag Performer Sues Right-Wing Blogger Over Indecent Exposure Allegations

“The justice system did what needed to be done,” Posey said Friday after the ruling, according to AP.

The doctored video quickly went viral, leading to national news coverage, a police investigation and significant personal harassment for Posey. Despite Bushnell’s claims, law enforcement officials confirmed that the raw footage showed Posey was fully clothed during his performance and that no charges were filed.

Posey told how the false accusations had a serious impact on his life, causing emotional distress, harassment and death threats. He credits the support of his friends and community for helping him through the ordeal.

“Imagine being in a dark hole where you have no one and you feel like the whole world is turning its back on you,” Posey said in court. “But somehow you were surrounded by warriors, real people of Idaho – not transplants, real people of this soil. I am lucky to have such people around me, people who have given me a boost.”

Bushnell’s attorney, D. Colton Boyles, argued that her claims were “close to the line” but not defamatory, according to the Coeur d’Alene Pressreports.

After a five-day trial, the jury deliberated for approximately three and a half hours. Jurors asked whether they could force the removal of Bushnell’s posts and a public apology, but First District Judge Ross Pittman indicated that was not possible. Outside the courthouse, jurors approached Posey to shake his hand or hug him.

“I’m really glad you got the justice you deserve,” one juror said as he hugged Posey. “I’m so sorry you went through this,” another juror added, according to the Coeur d’Alene Press.

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