My name is Aidan Kearney. I’m the owner of Worcester Digital Marketing LLC, the company that monetizes this blog and pays the bills. A lot of people think I’m the only blogger at Turtleboy Sports, but the reality is I’m the boss. I hire bloggers, I make sure content gets published, I give bloggers story ideas, and I run the business. I’m currently writing a book that I’ve been working on for months that will explain everything you could possibly imagine about the inner workings of Turtleboy, including the origins, evolution, and continued fight for free speech in the face of unprecedented censorship.
One of those forms of censorship are defamation lawsuits. As the only person whose name is on the Secretary of State’s page for this website I am always the person who takes the fall. We’ve been sued for many blogs in the past, none of which were written by me. However, our bloggers are all promised anonymity going into this. They can tell me their names if they wish, but I prefer not to know. At the end of the day I am the one who has to answer for it legally, but we have never lost a lawsuit in court. Largely because Worcester’s top poet and lawyer, Margaret Melican, has provided an invaluable service to us in defending free speech pro bono.
As many of you know former advertiser and Worcester City Councilor Michael T. Gaffney filed a lawsuit against us in December 2017. Masslive, Worcester Magazine, and the Telegram and Gazette wrote about it relentlessly when he first filed. The blog supported Gaffney for Mayor of Worcester in 2015 and was very critical of his political opponents. However, along the way former supporters like myself began to grow tired of his constant theatrics and whining.
It reached a breaking point when he dropped out of the election, urged people not to vote for him, then got mad when he misinterpreted a democratic flier that he claimed was misrepresenting him, threatened to sue them, and said he wanted people to vote for him, even though he told us he was moving to Florida.
When his detractors celebrated him leaving, he wanted to make it clear to people that he was leaving for better opportunities, but never said what those opportunities were. If you want to hear how cocky he and Coreen are, start watching at the 18:45 mark:
He had to leave on top. He had to make it clear he was leaving on his own terms for better opportunities, not because he thought he was going to lose the election.
One of our bloggers published this blog urging people not to vote for Gaffney. Gaffney was urging people to still vote for him, even though he had announced he was dropping out, because his name was still on the ballot. He ended up finishing in last place (8th out of 8). One of our bloggers wrote about the election results, and it was their assertion that Gaffney hurt not only himself, but all Republicans because of guilt by association.
It was these two blogs that Gaffney initially sued Turtleboy over. He sued me, Worcester Digital Marketing LLC, and Turtleboy Digital Marketing LLC – a company that he urged me to create a couple years ago in order to protect myself legally. The company has never made a dollar. He was suing us for 2 things:
- Libel. He listed a multitude of sentences that are too numerous to mention here, which he claimed were untrue, malicious, and consequently cost him money.
- Fraud. As a former advertiser he claimed that we promised him that we got over 1.2 million page views each month, but an “online audit” he used said we get much less than that.
The fraud was especially easy to disprove. Google Analytics and Jetpack are two tools we use to count page views. Both of them had us averaging well over 2.5 million views a month while he advertised. Additionally, we never promised Gaffney he’d get that many page views, he never asked about page views, there was no contract, and the whole thing was pretty informal.
For that reason the fraud charges were dropped 2 weeks ago. Finally.
The libel charge was equally absurd, but wasn’t as black and white as the fraud charge. Amongst his libel claims were:
- The blog said that his “Cheers” Youtube videos were terrible and no one liked them, but he insisted that many people liked them and they were highly acclaimed
- The blog said that he dropped out of the race because he knew he was going to lose, but this was allegedly a lie because a previous time someone using the Clarence Woods Emerson account said that he was going to win
- The blog libeled him when it said that being associated with Gaffney cost other Republicans the election, because during a previous conversation someone from Turtleboy said in a group conversation that his wife Coreen was in that Republican Paul Franco would lose no matter what (therefore it had nothing to dow with Gaffney)
- The blog libeled him when it said that no one actually believed the flier from the WDCC was misrepresenting him, but in a previous Facebook conversation his wife was in one individual agreed with his assessment of the flier.
- The blog said he moved to Boca Vista, FL, which does not exist, therefore it’s libelous.
- That we wrote the authors wrote these allegedly libelous things out of revenge because he had deleted a comment Clarence Woods Emerson left on his Facebook page.
- That Margaret Melican urged us to write the blog urging people not to vote for him because we were secretly working for one of the other City Councilors, Moe Bergman.
- That our article urging people not to vote for him, “suppressed the vote,” that would’ve shown up to support him (in a race he had already announced he had dropped out of)
There was so much more too. When I got served I had a chance to review these blogs. If I saw something libelous in them I could take them down. I chose not to because I didn’t see anything close to that. All of these were opinions backed up by facts.
Shortly afterwards he added new charges to the lawsuit that the blog had caused him “emotional distress“:
“That ongoing use of numerous fake Facebook profiles (sic), the Defendants have engaged in callow, capricious, name calling and disparagement of the Plaintiff for the purposes of causing the Plaintiff emotional distress,” the complaint reads.
Both counts of infliction of emotional distress reference the article and, in particular, the line “Anyway, we’re in Gaffney’s brain now too.” Gaffney said the line shows Turtleboy’s malicious intent to cause distress.
Gaffney said as a result of the post, he “experienced a multitude of emotional distresses, including shock, stress, sadness, anger, anxiety, anguish and depression.”
It was ironic because he had used the blog for years as a weapon against his political opponents. As a matter of fact Gaffney had written 6 blogs himself, and his wife Coreen had written one. Almost all under the nom de plume “Turtleboy.” And some of these blogs were vicious. Gaffney wrote the blog accusing Walter Bird for sexual harassment. He specifically wrote this blog in response to a Worcester Magazine column written by Bill Shaner that suggested he read white nationalist literature. Although it was all factual, but he had these allegations for a while and chose to only release them because Worcester Magazine posted mean things about him. He wrote another one smearing School Committee candidate Dante Comparetto, revealing private text messages between the two of them.
We liked Gaffney because of his politics (he was instrumental in taking down Mosaic Cultural Complex). He fully admits that his success was largely due to the blog’s support for him:
But his aggressive nature of going after people like Sarai Rivera and Joe Petty was a nice added bonus. That’s what made his lawsuit and claims of emotional distress so ridiculous – he had no problem using it as a weapon against his political opponents, and never once though about the emotional distress it could cause them.
The whole thing was absurd and we assumed it would be dismissed quickly. At first I figured that Gaffney was just doing this to be a dick (because he is a dick), or if he really thought he could win this.
Gaffney filed it in Dudley District Court because we’ve written about Dudley Judge Tim Bibaud extensively since his daughter single handedly brought down the Massachusetts State Police. Shortly after that it was transferred to Uxbridge where Gerald Lemire was the judge. To my knowledge Lemire never actually reviewed any of the ridiculous things Gaffney was suing us for, because had he done so he would’ve dismissed this a long time ago.
Instead Judge Lemire allowed this circus to go on for 10 months. Gaffney added on more and more ridiculous discovery for what seemed to have purpose other than annoying my attorney Margaret Melican. These included:
- Printed out copies of every blog that contained the phrases, “Don’t poke the turtle,” “Turtleboy graveyard,” and “the internet is forever,” in order to prove that we maliciously were attacking him. Even though he could’ve printed these out himself he said it was burdensome.
- Copies of blogs where we brag about being undefeated in court
- Copies of everything that Clarence Woods Emerson has ever commented on, liked, or shared on Facebook (ever)
- All blogs where we referenced Attorney Richard N. Vulva
- He added many names to the lawsuit of people he believed were Vulva and other Internet nom de plumes
- Identities of anyone who had written a blog about him
- Copies of all links to Facebook pages like The Truth About Worcester where Turtleboy blogs were shared
- Copies of an email we got from a turtle rider who saw Gaffney in court and was used as a basis of a blog, along with the name of the emailer
- Copies of all blogs in which his name is mentioned
- Copies of private messages between me and my lawyer, who he alleged was a Turtleboy contributor and thus could not defend me
- Screenshots of all comments made about him in secret groups called, “get in my rape van,” and “Turtleboy splinter cell”
This was just a small percentage of the discovery he required. Margaret was always up to her head in paperwork answering this frivolous discovery.
He moved to Florida, and then Dallas, so he had to fly back and forth over and over again. That’s how dedicated to and obsessed with he was with this lawsuit.
I only went to one of the court dates in July, but Gaffney had boxes and boxes of documents with him. Judge Lemire cleared the court when it was his turn, and he rambled on for 30 minutes, wildly throwing his hands in the air while ranting about private Facebook conversations and things Judge Lemire clearly had no clue about. Margaret Melican told the Judge she was having trouble keeping up with all the discovery he was asking for. Gaffney’s response was something like this:
“Well your honor, if he would just stop writing about me then I’d stop adding discovery.”
In other words, he was bullying us with frivolous discovery in order to censor the blog. Out of respect for Margaret (since she was doing all the work) I put a kabosh on all Gaffney blogs moving forward, and ordered bloggers to stop writing about him. It was a waste of everyone’s time, he’s completely irrelevant, and I just wanted it to go away at that point.
On top of that Gaffney also filed witness intimidation charges against me, because he believed I (using the Clarence Woods Emerson account) had contacted his mistress, urging her to use her influence to get him to drop the lawsuit. Had he not done so their affair was bound to come out in discovery and she could’ve been called as a witness.
After the mistress repeatedly contacted Clarence Woods Emerson a blog was published exposing her for threatening Turtleboy with the teacher’s union. She responded by filing a harassment order against me personally in court. She claimed to have hired a lawyer named Penny, and I had to hire my own attorney. (While in court Clarence always posted a bunch, proving that it was not only me behind the account). My attorney couldn’t believe that I had never spoken with this woman on the phone, met her in person, or contacted her on Facebook, and she was still trying to get a harassment order against me.
When I got there I was shocked to see that her attorney was actually Michael Gaffney, and he was likely behind the whole thing. My lawyer couldn’t believe how ridiculous this was. We had a court date two weeks after that, and this time she had a lawyer she had met that day. He couldn’t believe what was happening either, knew this wasn’t going to get her a harassment order, and pleaded with me for a deal to make it go away. Mike Gaffney was there for support, sitting with his mistress (even though he’s back with his wife).
We ended up signing an agreement in which the charges were dropped with prejudice, meaning she can’t do it again to me. She clearly wanted nothing to do with this, and it appeared as if Gaffney put her up to it in order to build something for his lawsuit against me. She wanted to shake my hand on the way out of court. I refused. What her and Gaffney don’t realize is that people are allowed to express opinions about you publicly, even if you don’t like them. What with the First Amendment and all.
At later court dates Gaffney actually showed up to court with both his wife AND the mistress. Although this was bizarre, it was kind of a pimp move at the same time. It was clear that the three of them were sick people.
The problem with his defamation lawsuit (one of many) was that he had no damages. What money had he lost because of the blog? He actually was suing me for his City Council salary, claiming I was the reason he lost the election. An election he had dropped out of. He claimed he could not show his financial records we asked for in discovery (to show money he lost) because Margaret and I would use it to humiliate him publicly. We asked for clients who left him because of the blog. He couldn’t provide any. And did I mention that he chose to shut down his law office because he was moving to Florida? Hard to have clients in Worcester when you don’t have a law office.
He also wanted $40,000 in lawyer fees (he was his own lawyer) for a frivolous lawsuit he was choosing to pursue and fly up for repeatedly.
To make it all go away I offered to promise that he would never be written about on Turtleboy again. He countered with $100,000, a retraction of all blogs about him, and a public apology. Sounds reasonable.
In mid-August I had to sit down for a deposition with him. This is what he brought with him:
A suitcase filled with documents. Printouts of every conversation he ever had on Facebook with Clarence Woods Emerson, and dozens of blogs which we went through line by line. I’m talking thousands and thousands of pages, color coded and ready to go:
As you can see he got his tips frosted just for me, and had the entire thing recorded on video.
The deposition took place over two days because he was so confrontational the first time and Margaret kept objecting to his line of questioning. Have you ever seen the episode of the Office where Michael gets deposed? This was even more entertaining. If you have some time, read some of the highlights of the first two hour deposition. It started off with him hassling me over not having my license:
Then he kept asking me about who wrote blogs and who Clarence Woods Emerson was:
At one point his hands were shaking uncontrollably as he was noticably agitated and high strung. I’ve never seen anything like it. Margaret noticed too and that didn’t go over well, as he screamed and yelled over her in an almost threatening and misogynistic style:
He kept trying to get me to answer questions Margaret told me not to:
At one point Gaffney mocked Margaret Melican and told her to get a hearing aid. I called him a dick, and it felt really good because he was acting like a dick:
Perhaps the most satisfying part was when I got to call him a loser to his face:
And finally we ended the deposition and finished it two weeks later because the Judge was busy being a Judge and didn’t have time to babysit Gaffney’s silly lawsuit.
This has been Margaret Melican’s life for the last 10 months. She did all of this work for free because she is a saint and an amazing lawyer. I don’t even want to think about what this would’ve cost me to deal with if I had to hire an attorney. The company would go broke and Turtleboy likely would not exist anymore. That seems to be what Gaffney was trying to do here – bleed us out. Because Turtleboy had done the unforgivable – written something critical of him. He didn’t think the blog was allowed to voice opinions about him or make fun of him, because he claims he was depressed and it was intentional infliction of emotional distress.
But instead of just moving onto his new life in Worcester he obsessed over the blog and me and Margaret for 10 months. He kept coming back to Worcester all the time (despite his “opportunities” in Florida and Texas), participated in the Worcester Republican City Committee, and attended the Republican State Convention.
He passive aggressively wrote about us on his Facebook page The Worcester Independent Leader:
If you’d like to share your thoughts on this man trying to silence us and take down the blog by bullying us with litigation for 10 months, you can do so on the Worcester Independent Leader’s Facebook page.
He constantly posted about how well things were going, almost to let people know that things are always going well for Mike Gaffney. He’s that full of himself.
As a conservative he railed against liberals like Joe Early and Jim McGovern for years. Then he posted this in August:
“Under criminal investigation for witness tampering and extortion.”
No we weren’t. He’s talking about his mistress, who went to the Worcester Police to complain about her messages with Clarence Woods Emerson. The WPD never contacted me, as they likely did not take her silly complaint seriously. But Gaffney clearly did. Either way, the fact that he no longer lived here, and the fact that he was endorsing a guy he hated politically simply out of spite for me, shows how much he thought about me. It was the most obsessive thing I have ever seen.
But the Judge would not drop the lawsuit, and clearly knew very little about the case. Instead we had a trial date set for October 31. Gaffney’s witness list included his mistress, my mother, and my wife. Not even kidding. It was going to be a circus.
I was actually looking forward to the trial as the witnesses likely would not have been a good for him. It also would’ve come out that Gaffney tried buying the blog off of me last year and I had proof of it. Looking back at it he might’ve had some animosity towards me because I never sold it to him.
But the trial will never happen because today Judge Lemire finally ended the madness. The defendant (me) won, and Gaffney lost. So basically he spent the last 10 months flying back and forth between Florida and Uxbridge, and then Dallas (he moved to Dallas) and Uxbridge. He wasted hundreds, and possibly thousands of hours analyzing blogs and random conversations on Facebook. His wife encouraged this madness instead of telling him to stop, and she had no shame in showing up to court with him AND the mistress. He wasted my time, Margaret’s time, his time, and the court’s time.
So yea, this is why we ask for donations. Because we constantly have to deal with garbage like this.