Alec Baldwin seeks defamation suit against family of Wyoming sailor killed in Afghanistan | national news
Alec Baldwin’s lawyers are asking a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit accusing him of defaming the family of a Wyoming sailor killed in Afghanistan, according to recent court documents.
According to a motion to dismiss, Baldwin says he was expressing his constitutionally protected political opinion on the Jan. 6 riots, rather than defaming the Marine’s sister and widow as claimed in their complaint. The actor’s attorney also argues that the case has no merit in Wyoming, since Baldwin has no connection to the state.
Baldwin donated $5,000 to one of Rylee McCollum’s sisters after Bondurant’s 20-year-old Marine was killed in a Kabul airport bombing in August, according to the initial complaint.
In January, when Roice McCollum posted a photo of a January 6, 2021 protest in Washington, DC, Baldwin commented to confirm that she was the one who received his donation.
They exchanged private messages, according to court documents, in which Baldwin accused her of being a “January 6 riot” and said her actions resulted in the destruction of property and the death of an officer. McCollum told her she was protesting legally and that she had already met with the FBI.
Baldwin reposted her photo to her own account, which had 2.4 million followers at the time, according to court documents. He called the January 6 allegations of non-violent protests “bulls***” and said he would delete the post the next day. The photo, along with his comment on his original post, has been deleted.
McCollum received hundreds of “hostile, aggressive, hateful” messages from Baldwin supporters after that, according to the complaint, causing him and other plaintiffs in the case distress, anxiety and fear.
While McCollum’s attorney argues that Baldwin acted maliciously in reposting the photo, alleging he knew it would bring them harassment, the actor’s motion says the act could not have been malicious because it there were no known factual inaccuracies in his caption.
He also argues that Baldwin should not be held responsible for messages sent by other people.
“Would this case exist if Baldwin were not a well-known actor? Would the plaintiffs ask for $25 million? No, clearly not,” the motion reads. “This is a political dispute disguised as a lawsuit, motivated moreover by money. The public square – not this Court – is the appropriate place to debate the opinion of Alec Baldwin.
In a response filed this week, attorneys for the McCollums said Baldwin’s comment calling Roice an “insurgent” accused her of criminal activity and therefore defamed her “by implication.” They also say Baldwin’s actions were more serious due to his large following.
“As evidenced by followers’ responses to Baldwin’s post, the implication of this misrepresentation is that the plaintiffs are rioters, traitors, racists, Nazis or white supremacists who have sought to overthrow American democracy” , indicates their answer.
Baldwin’s motion argues that “insurrection” is not a criminal charge, but rather an expression of his opinion on the events of January 6.
“This case isn’t whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican,” said Luke Nikas, one of Baldwin’s longtime attorneys. “It’s about whether you believe in the First Amendment and the constitutions of the United States and Wyoming and free speech.”