Indiana Court says anonymous poster must be revealed in slander case

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Who is DownwiththeColts?

An Indiana court wants to know and is calling for him or her to reveal their identity in an ongoing case surrounding the former CEO of Junior Achievement in Central Indiana and allegations of financial mismanagement.

It all started when the Indianapolis Star published an online article about Junior Achievement and funds surrounding an unfinished building project.

In the comments section someone calling themselves DownwiththeColts wrote:

“This is not JA’s responsibility. They need to look at the FORMER president of JA and others on the (Foundation) board. The ‘missing’ money can be found in their bank accounts.”

Former CEO Jeff Miller said the claim is slanderous and demanded the Star reveal the person behind it. The Star refused.

Miller retired from junior achievement in 2008.  But he’s still going after anonymous posters like DownwiththeColts claiming they hurt his chances of getting other jobs like at the mayor’s office because of their anonymous claims he mismanaged money.

The court of appeals said DownwiththeColts must be unmasked along with the other anonymous posters.

“They call it defamation per se,” said Indianapolis lawyer Charles Hankey.

He said the court did a good job of protecting the rights of free speech and protecting sources for journalists.

“The judge handled it correctly,” said Hankey.  “The individual that posted was not really a whistle blower, was not really a source of a story… and after the story was up, the individual commented.”

So Hankey said anonymous posters beware.  You may not be able to hide behind an anonymous name.

”We are responsible,” Hankey said.  “We’re responsible for what we say.”