Complaining about an ex on Facebook may not be the most tactful thing - but could you be arrested for it?
Anne King, of Washington County, Ga., claims when she complained about her ex, who was a police officer, on Facebook, he “cooked up a scheme” to have her thrown in jail for it - and then did so. Now she’s suing him, an investigator and the county in federal court.
Here’s what she says happened, according to the lawsuit.
In January of 2015, King was caring for her and her ex-husband Corey King’s children, who were sick along with everyone else in the home. Ms. King says she asked Officer King to pick up medicine on his way to work, but he said he was too busy.
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On Facebook, using the “feeling overwhelmed” tag in a status update, Ms. King vented to friends:
“That moment when everyone in your house has the flu and you ask your kid’s dad to get them (not me) more Motrin and Tylenol and he refuses.”
Her friends commented on the post in support, including one woman named Susan Hines, who called her husband a “POS” and said “give me an hour and check your mailbox. I’ll be glad to pick up the slack.”
Officer King saw the post and told Ms. King to take it down, but she didn’t. After that, the lawsuit claims he wrote an incident report complaining of Ms. King’s and Ms. Hines’ “derogatory statements” on Facebook.
Both women appeared in court, where Hines brought up her first amendment rights.
“You can call Mr. King a piece of s*** to his face,” the magistrate said, according to the lawsuit. “You can even tell someone else you think he is a piece of s***. But you can’t post it out for the public to see. That’s defamation of character.”
After the hearing, Ms. King and Ms. Hines, who were originally brought in on making “harassing phone calls,” were instead charged with “criminal defamation,” an unenforceable charge that was ruled unconstitutional in Georgia in 1982. In fact, Ms. King says in the lawsuit that the jailer couldn’t even find the charge in the fingerprinting system.
King was jailed for about four hours before bonding out for $1,000. Later, a state court judge dismissed the charge, saying “I don’t even know why we’re here,” the lawsuit says.
“Just the fact that I was arrested. I mean over a Facebook post. I was sitting in a jail cell with criminals walking, in orange jumpsuits, looking at me, checking me out,” Hines, who had also been sent to jail, told WRDW.
Now the lawsuit claims Ms. King “lives in fear, worrying that at any time she could be arrested and jailed if someone does not like something she says.” She’s suing the county, her ex-husband, and investigator Trey Burgamy for compensatory and punitive damages.
Officer King defended himself in a deposition, saying “I don’t feel as though the portrayal of my fatherhood was truthful as what I do for my children and what I have done for my children as long as they have been alive,” according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The magistrate also said in a deposition that he did not know that criminal defamation was not a valid charge, reported the paper. No defending parties responded to a request for comment in the paper’s most recent article.
A ruling in the case is expected later this week.