A federal magistrate in Montana has recommended a neo-Nazi pay more than $14 million in damages to a Jewish woman who was subjected to a troll storm he organized.
Tanya Gersh sued Andrew Anglin in 2017 after she and her family experienced years of harassment and intimidation because Anglin published her name and contact information on his website, the Daily Stormer, and urged readers to contact her.
Gersh was named in a post that criticized her for becoming involved in a dispute with the mother of Richard Spencer, a white nationalist, and condemned her for being Jewish.
Gersh, 46, a Realtor and mother of two, got messages that said: “I hope you die,” “Kill yourself,” and “We will take pleasure in your pain.” One voicemail said: “You are surprisingly easy to find on the Internet. And in real life.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center brought the case to court on Gersh’s behalf.
US Magistrate Judge Jeremiah C. Lynch announced a default ruling in Gersh’s favor of more than $4 million in compensatory damages and $10 million in punitive damages. Lynch’s ruling is a recommendation — not an award — subject to approval by a US District Court judge.
Anglin and his lawyer, who no longer represents him, earlier claimed Anglin was no longer a US resident and that his words were protected by the First Amendment.
Anglin did not show up for a deposition in this case, which led to a hearing seeking a default judgment. His whereabouts are currently unknown. He did not respond to CNN e-mail requests for comment about the ruling, or previous requests for comments on the case.
He can only be forced to pay the settlements if he is found in the US.
Judge Lynch also recommended the issuance of a permanent injunction ordering Anglin to “remove from his website the blog posts encouraging his readers to contact Gersh, her family and especially her son.”
Gersh’s son was 12 years old when he, too, received hateful social media posts directed at him.
“There is no doubt that the judge intended a message not just for Andrew Anglin but for anyone who decides an organized campaign for hate that causes harm and that there will be consequences,” SPLC lawyer David Dinielli told CNN.
Gersh believes justice has been done.
“This lawsuit has always been about stopping others from enduring the terror I continue to live through at the hands of a neo-Nazi and his followers, and I wanted to make sure that this never happens to anyone else,” she said in a statement.