A plaintiff in an Illinois federal court found himself in an awkward position recently - and that may be putting it mildly.
The plaintiff (who to the best of my knowledge is not Anthony Weiner or Carlos Danger) met a woman online and later, while talking with her via Skype, “engaged in sexual conduct.”
Unbeknownst to the plaintiff, the woman recorded the conduct and told plaintiff she would post the video online unless he paid her $200. When the plaintiff refused to cough up the cash, the woman posted the video to an adult Web site using the plaintiff’s name to identify it.
The plaintiff brought a suit for violation of his privacy, captioning the suit as “Doe v. Doe.” The plaintiff, understandably, didn’t want to call additional attention to himself. He was also concerned that if the woman discovered he was filing the suit, she would retaliate by further publishing the video. So he asked if he could proceed anonymously. But the court said no.
In the court’s view, “the people have a right to know who is using their courts.” And it found the plaintiff was not the type of party that presented exceptional circumstances which typically justify anonymity – such as rape victims, or child molestation victims.
The court also considered the plaintiff’s fear about further publication unfounded. According to the court, “[o]nce . . . defendant realizes she can be held accountable for her formerly-anonymous actions, it would be irrational for her to increase her potential liability by republishing the video.”
With all due respect to the court, we are talking about a woman who secretly videotaped the plaintiff during a phone sex session on Skype, and then published the video online. “Rational” may not be a word in her vocabulary.
In any event, the plaintiff decided it wasn’t worth the embarrassment. Two weeks after the court denied his request for anonymity, he voluntarily dismissed the case. Somewhere a crazy woman is breathing a sigh of relief.
The lesson here? Oh, I don’t know. How about no phone sex with strangers? Or at least none that involves a camera.