Twitter Ordered to Identify User Who Accused All Time Low of Sexual Abuse
In February, All Time Low responded to the allegations with a libel lawsuit against that accuser and at least two others on social media who claimed in online posts that members of the band had inappropriately behaved with underage fans. Since the accusers were anonymous, All Time Low's suit said they would "utilize discovery including subpoenas to uncover the identities of those that defamed them."
Now, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Daniel S. Murphy has sided with the band, saying the Twitter user @ATLstatement, known in the suit as Jane Doe 2, must be identified for the case to continue.
"Plaintiffs cannot proceed with litigation without identifying Doe 2," Judge Murphy wrote.
While the right to publish anonymously is protected by the First Amendment, as Rolling Stone pointed out, freedom of speech doesn't extend to defamation, Judge Murphy said. Plaintiffs with "legally sufficient" lawsuits have a right to "discover" the identities of their alleged defamers, the judge explained.
"Here, the complaint states a valid claim because it sets forth the exact statements alleged to be defamatory, alleges that they are false, and alleges that defendants made the statements with actual malice," Judge Murphy added. "Plaintiffs deny under oath the accusations made in Doe 2's Twitter post. Damage is presumed without the need for proof in libel per se cases where a statement is defamatory on its face, such as accusations of sexual assault. Nonetheless, plaintiffs allege that they have lost reputation, goodwill, and lost revenue. Therefore, the complaint states a valid claim for libel per se."
Those accusations surfaced after a TikTok user said a famous pop-punk band invited her onto a tour bus when she was 13 years old, offering her beer and requesting her bra. That woman didn't name the group, but her hints led many to believe it was All Time Low. Subsequently, @ATLstatement accused Barakat of sexual abuse. Then, a third accuser claimed to have tallied 97 allegations against the band.
Twitter initially fought a subpoena, saying it would only identify Doe 2 if served with a court order. The social media company had previously notified Doe 2 of the suit, but Doe 2 failed to reply by a court deadline. Now, All Time Low's lawyers have demanded Twitter identify the user.
All Time Low have maintained their innocence. "Not only have the reputations of the band and its members been unfairly tarnished," they say in their suit, "but the band has also lost business opportunities and suffered cancellation of scheduled events. All Time Low has worked hard for two decades to earn its large fan base and would prefer to continue to focus on its music rather than litigate. However, these false and salacious accusations have harmed the band, its members and their families."
If you or someone you know has been sexually abused, help is available. Please visit RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network) online or call 1-800-656-HOPE (1-800-656-4673).