HELENA — A judge on Thursday ordered the publisher of a neo-Nazi website to pay a Jewish real estate agent $14 million for inciting his readers to harass her family with hundreds of threatening and anti-Semitic messages and calls.
U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen entered Tanya Gersh a default judgment in her civil lawsuit after The Daily Stormer founder Andrew Anglin refused to appear for a scheduled deposition in the case.
He ordered Anglin to pay Gersh over $4 million in compensatory damages, $10 million in punitive damages and told him to permanently remove all posts, comments and images about Gersh, her husband and son.
Anglin accused Gersh of trying to run the mother of white nationalist Richard Spencer out of the mountain resort town of Whitefish in 2016. He published the personal information of the Gersh family on his website and wrote to his readers, "Are y'all ready for an old fashioned troll storm?"
Gersh said she and her family received threatening and horrifying messages for months.
Christensen's order adopts the findings of a magistrate judge who called Anglin's conduct against Gersh "egregious and reprehensible."
It's the second multimillion-dollar award against Anglin in recent months. A federal judge in Ohio awarded radio host Dean Obeidallah, a Muslim, $4.1 million in June after Anglin falsely accused him of terrorism.
Anglin, who does not live in the U.S., did not immediately respond to an email for comment.
Gersh said in an emailed statement that what Anglin did broke a part of her, but she is stronger thanks to the support of her family, neighbors and the worldwide Jewish community.
"This win isn't just for me my family and my community; this is a win for everyone who has been harassed, terrorized and bullied," she said.
Anglin's lawyers argued unsuccessfully that his writings were protected by the First Amendment. They dropped him as a client when he failed to appear for his deposition in April.
It's not clear how Gersh will collect the money from Anglin if he remains outside the U.S. Her attorney, David Dinielli of the Southern Poverty Law Center, said he "will go to the ends of the earth to collect the judgment ... whether it's cash, assets or intellectual property."
Anglin faces default judgments in at least three other federal cases, including the lawsuit filed by Obeidallah and another alleged targets of his online trolling campaigns.
Be the first to know
Get local news delivered to your inbox!