Drag performer sues Bushnell for defamation
A rainbow balloon arch welcomes guests to a past Pride in the Park event.
Hagadone News Network | September 29, 2022 1:00 AM
COEUR d’ALENE — A drag performer has sued a blogger who falsely accused him of indecent exposure and posted doctored footage of him online.
Eric Posey, a Kootenai County resident whose stage name is Mona Liza Million, performed June 11 at the Pride in the Park celebration in Coeur d’Alene.
The next day, North Idaho blogger Summer Bushnell published an edited video of Posey’s performance on her Facebook page, The Bushnell Report. Posey’s pelvic area is blurred out in the edited video, implying nudity.
Bushnell claimed that Posey exposed himself to the crowd. She called for Posey’s arrest in her Facebook post, urging the public to contact police and the Idaho Attorney General’s Office.
The video, which remains on Bushnell’s page, has garnered more than 19,000 views, as well as hundreds of comments and shares expressing outrage.
Coeur d’Alene police said that none of the callers who contacted them had watched the performance firsthand. Instead, they saw Bushnell’s edited video.
The Coeur d’Alene City Prosecutor’s Office reviewed the edited video, as well as other unedited videos and photos. Prosecutors announced in July that the evidence shows Posey did not violate any state or local law.
"The unedited video recordings do not depict any exposure of genitalia," said a news release published July 1 on the city's website. "The allegations of indecent exposure, or other crimes cannot be supported by the evidence. Therefore, prosecution is declined."
Posey filed a lawsuit against Bushnell on Monday, saying she defamed him.
“I have no choice but to take legal action to hold those responsible for the lies accountable for their actions,” he said in a news release.
When contacted by The Press Tuesday, Bushnell declined to comment on the lawsuit.
Posey requested a jury trial in the case. He is seeking compensatory damages, attorneys fees and legal costs. He said he’s lost professional opportunities and suffered consequences with his permanent employer due to Bushnell’s false accusations.
He said the damage caused by the edited video is ongoing.
“Provocateurs have continued to spread the doctored video of my performance, not only defaming me, but also inciting backlash toward the LGBTQIA+ community statewide,” he said. “My hope is that this civil suit puts a stop to the hateful disinformation campaigns being waged in Idaho.”
City prosecutors have also continued to receive calls, emails letters about the performance, some of which were reportedly threatening in nature.
The suit contends that Bushnell sought to capitalize on national attention surrounding Pride in the Park after the mass arrest of 31 members of the white supremacist hate group Patriot Front.
Court documents allege that Bushnell knew her accusations were false because she possessed and viewed the unedited footage of Posey’s performance, which showed no nudity.
“Bushnell lied to gain popularity on social media, but the publicity she received was not free,” said Wendy J. Olson, one of the attorneys representing Posey. “It came at the expense of Posey’s reputation and emotional wellbeing.”
Bushnell has maintained that the unedited footage, which prosecutors confirmed showed no nudity, is too graphic for her to share on social media. In July, Bushnell emailed a link to The Press that she said contained the unedited video, but the file had already been deleted and couldn’t be viewed.
Posey thanked the Coeur d’Alene police and city prosecutors who investigated the performance and “worked tirelessly to uphold the truth.”
“I am so appreciative of those in the North Idaho community who rallied behind me in support during this difficult time,” he said.