On Monday at 9:30 I’m going to be doing an interview with Phil Paleologos on WBSM, 1420 AM radio in New Bedford about the lawsuit I’m involved in with Jennifer Azadnia Panagakos. This comes after the article that was written in the Standard Times about it, and an interview that Jennifer and her husband Michael Panagakos did yesterday. You can listen to the whole thing or read the parts I’ve transcribed below.
I just want to be abundantly clear here – if you don’t think this is true love, then you don’t know what true love is.
There can be no doubt that those two were meant for each other, and that their love has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that he’s extremely wealthy. What woman doesn’t dream of one day marrying a five foot something tall bald man thirty years her senior who’s been to jail for tax evasion and over-serving a minor who was killed on the way home after leaving his bar? Who would ever want to have a child with someone that would be UNDER the age of 85 when that child graduates from high school? Some of you may have speculated about their motives prior to this, but I for one am more convinced than ever that these two were born to be together.
This is a sensitive matter because it’s ongoing litigation that presents a real threat to the future of the blog. I think a lot of people are underestimating that, or not getting what we’re up against here. Anyone can sue anyone in this country, regardless of whether or not it has merit. I would gladly represent myself as I’m familiar with libel and defamation, and I know I’m not guilty of it. But when they sue the company that I own I am MANDATED BY LAW to hire an attorney. Attorneys are very expensive, and the stated goal of these people is to hurt us financially with this lawsuit. In the last 2 or 3 months I’ve gotten almost $20,000 in legal bills. That’s why we’ve started this Fundrazr for our legal fees. We appreciate any and all donations. We don’t make a lot of money, and if we run out of money and can’t afford an attorney we will get a default judgment against the company. When that happens all of your assets are seized, which in this case is the blog. Effectively if we don’t raise enough money then they will win and Turtleboy Sports will no longer exist, regardless of the fact that this lawsuit has no merit.
There are some things I can’t discuss until this lawsuit is over. But let me start by saying that this quote from the dreamboat husband is what actual defamation sounds like:
“People commented on the article on Facebook on the Standard Times, they didn’t respond to the article or the facts or what happened. They simply responded by being bullies, by calling Jen names, by maligning her looks, her pregnancy, the fact that they called her….described her…she’s pregnant. They wanted to make slanderous and terrible comments about her breasts. It’s, ya know, they wanted to talk about our marriage. And these are people who claim to know her but when you go to their Facebook page they’re from Ohio, ya know they’re from Toledo, California, these are all the scummy people who watch this little crumb Aidan Kearney, he’s just a bad man, former high school teacher that had to leave under some questions about his sexual harassment of existing students”
That is a blatantly slanderous statement, which WBSM allowed to be broadcasted on their airwaves. I left teaching at Shepherd Hill because of Turtleboy. Feel free to read the book (link) I wrote where this is all explained. Administration found out that I was writing a previously anonymous blog, and they felt that the opinions I was expressing, and the language I was using, were not acceptable for a teacher to say. But they knew they couldn’t fire me because the First Amendment affords me the right to state “controversial” opinions, and that any attempt to terminate me would be countered with a lawsuit by a high priced Boston attorney paid for with my MTA union dues.
There isn’t a single valid source on the Internet that alleges anything regarding sexual harassment of students at Shepherd Hill. Not one. Michael Panagakos made up this lie and repeated it on the radio, which now affects my ability to find employment if the frivolous lawsuit he filed against me forces me into bankruptcy. Bristol and I are looking to create a non-profit that would teach kids how to become independent journalists. That becomes much harder now as a direct result of this. What if someone who was interested in giving us grant money heard this and changed their mind? This is the very definition of slander.
But what am I gonna do? Sue him? Only rich and powerful people have the time and money to pay for lawyers like George Leontire to attack people because their feelings were hurt by opinions on the Internet. If you’re an attorney that wants to talk about that with me, hit me up at [email protected] Usually I just ignore the peons who repeat this lie on the Internet, but this is a guy who is ironically suing me for defamation, and he’s repeating slanderous statements on the radio.
As for the rest of the interview, I’ve transcribed it all, but because of the ongoing litigation I’ll sit this one out and let the readers leave their thoughts in the comments. I’ll share some of my thoughts in the interview on Monday, and I’ll have much more to say when this is finally over.
Jen: “Im engaged in a coupe of lawsuits that started in early 2018 with somebody called Turtleboy, his real name is Aidan Kearney, he basically bashes and bullies adults. Tara Winterhalter and a couple of her employees invited me into her yoga studio Ritual Sweat Society for what I thought was an apology pretext. There had been what some people call drama happening on Facebook when she opened up a yoga studio. She began defaming me and my credentials. She said I wasn’t certified to teach yoga. She said I was a gold digger, that I married my husband for money”
“The suit is over that defamation, all the things that they did to me online. And also when they invited me in to their yoga studio and I thought they were gong to apologize for the things they were doing to me, and they filmed a concealed video of me which is against the law.
And then there was a conspiracy, a concerted effort, to send the video they too of me without my knowledge to Turtleboy, along with a bunch of emails with the same defamation that they had been spreading about me online. And that led to Turtleboy writing blogs about me further defaming me and slandering me to the point where my businesses immediately started suffering and went under and I closed 4 of my studio locations because I couldn’t survive anymore. My reputation was just destroyed.”
Jennette Barnes did a great job (on the story in the Standard Times), she’s a great reporter in my opinion. She did a great job presenting the facts. She did a great job explaining the background and that everybody in the lawsuit they’re pleading their fifth amendment right against self incrimination for the acts that they’ve done. Which is important so that people understand what happened, and theyre not just saying no I didn’t do this, which is what I say when Im asked if I did something.
Michael Panagakos: “Jen is as kind a person as you’ll ever know. She’s well qualified. She has a masters and a doctorate. Shes done yoga for well over 20 years. I’ve never seen her be unkind to anybody. Ive never see nanything like this. People commented on the article on Facebook on the Standard Times, they didn’t respond to the article or the facts or what happened. They simply responded by being bullies, by calling Jen names, by maligning her looks, her pregnancy, the fact that they called her….described her…she’s pregnant. They wanted to make slanderous and terrible comments about her breasts. It’s, ya know, they wanted to talk about our marriage. And these are people who claim to know her but when you go to their Facebook page they’re from Ohio, ya know Toledo, California, these are all the scummy people who watch this little crumb Aidan Kearney, he’s just a bad man, former high school teacher that had to leave under some questions about his sexual harassment of existing students”
Jen: First I was being cyberbullied by people at Ritual Sweat, and then when they took the concealed video of me and it was sent to Turtleboy, and anyone whos ever read Turtleboy’s blog, Turtleboy is essentially a forum for bullies to cyber bully other people. Those articles he wrote about me were shared and liked hundreds of thousands of times by local people, trashing me and bullying me, saying outrageous disgusting things. People who haven’t even met me and don’t know me.
Then we have the Standard Times article put the facts out and still we have hundreds of comments and nobody cares what was done to me. They just want to continue to bully me and be mean to me about who I love because he’s older than me or how I look because he’s older than me.
Part of what is most shocking to me is when I click on these people’s Facebook pages you can see they’re Moms, Dads, parents, who maybe have faced bullying before. But yet you have these adults bashing another adult and bullying them being so mean spirited.
We had people on Facebook saying adults can’t be bullied, that’s 100% not accurate. It’s a very real issue. It put me out of business. But the emotional distress and the trauma that it causes you is real. People kill themselves. You don’t know the damage you cause.
A large part of the defamation is them calling me an instigator. I was at a restaurant when I was eating when Tara Winterhalter and 2 of her employees came in and invited me in.
I said I wasn’t going to do any commentary, but this is the kind of intellectual we are dealing with here, and their limited understanding of American history and the First Amendment:
“People are not as educated as they think they are when it comes to issues regarding the law and our constitutional rights. People don’t understand that freedom of speech and the First Amendment is part of the bill of rights and the constitution with protected against the overbearing government. It was enacted so the government couldn’t hinder things like freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of petition. And it wasn’t until 150 or 200 years later that that freedom was applied between individuals. It’s just starting to be an issue where people have freedom of speech just in between people and citizens. But even then you don’t have unhindered freedom of speech to say whatever you want. There are consequences for your actions. Words can cause damage, not only financial but emotional and even physical harm. People can say what they wanna say but we as a society have laws that protect against people like Turtleboy or Tara Winterhalter that lead to financial devastation or emotional distress to people. That’s what slander and defamation and libel are all about.”
Phil: We report on instances where free speech is being shut down on campuses. Someone who wants to give a point of view is prevented from doing just that. Are we entering a new phase in America where we are shutting down somebody’s opinion, or somebody’s right to air their opinion because somebody is against it?
Jen: I think that with the rise of social media and the Internet it’s led to a communication on such a vaster level than we’ve ever seen before. Technology is aiding communication to spread so virally and it can become dangerous it can incite mob behavior. I’m a smaller scale example of what communication over the Internet can incite against one individual, And then you get a campus of Campuses of people can incite a mob. People can’t be allowed to have free reign and say whatever they wanna say. Because it becomes dangerous for people and that’s what laws are for to protect society, and protect people from harming each other.
Michael Panagakos: There’s a difference between opinion and fact. If I say that I think that Joe Smith is a killer, that’s different than if I say Joe Smith killed somebody. So there’s a difference between an opinion and fact. So yea, you can say I think that Joe is a bad man, but to say that as a fact that Joe actually killed Harry, that’s a problem and that’s slander and defamation. And that’s what people should be accountable for. They shouldn’t be constrained in what they say, they can have an opinion but they can’t make it factual. And when people say things that are factual that are untrue they need to be held accountable.
Jen: It was 100% a smear campaign. They said that I was a prostitute. They said I was a gold digger for an older man. They said I was teaching illegal yoga, and didn’t hold the credentials and wasn’t certified. And because people believed those the smear campaign spread, and was entertaining to people. It led to the demise of my businesses. If I didn’t have such a loving supporting husband it would’ve spread to the demise of my marriage.
“When you see people getting bullied beyond even just children, but adults, I understand nice people don’t want to get involved because they become the targets themselves of a bully, so they know what they’re saying is wrong and harmful, but if people can become a little more brave and stand up for what’s right verbally.
Phil: Give us an example.
Jen: “I have a lot of people from clients to employees to family members who tell me I see what they’re doing online, I see the horrible things people have said about you and I just want you to know I support you and I’m here for you in person and I hope that you understand that I can’t speak up for you online because they’ll come after me. But I want you to know that I really do love you, you don’t deserve this, I just don’t want them to turn on me. I understand. But if nobody ever stands up to the bully it’s not even about defending me, it’s about standing up for what’s right, and if nobody stands up to the bully you just embolden and empower them to bully. Nice people have to stand up and do what’s right.
Michael Panagakos: Turtleboy with Aidan Kearney, what he’s done is he’s used his blog to put several people out of business. What happens is it destroys their reputation to the point where they don’t have the resources to fight back and hold him accountable. And mostly people just want it to stop. It takes courage and resources to stand up for what’s right. Jen is a brave woman. She’s not just doing this for what he’s done to her.
If you look up this man, Tara Wintherlater weaponized Turtleboy to attack Jen. But he’s attacked other people and those people can’t fight back and Jen is going to hold those people accountable. Not only for what he’s done for her, but this is for all the people’s lives he’s destroyed. And we expect the court system to hold him accountable for everything.”
Turtleboy on his blog invited me to sue him. And said I dare you to sue me. Jen never responded to any of these things. Just because someone has resources doesn’t mean they’re not entitled to justice. And finally he’s hit on someone who has the resources and can fight back and hold him accountable. And he’s crying because he’s like poor me, now he’s the victim. Hes terrorized people without money to be able to fight back and hold him accountable, and this time he made a mistake. And he’s right, we have the resources to hold him accountable, to drag him all the way through the court and a trial system, and we intend to do that, so he better hold on.
(As you can see, they are hellbent on “dragging” me through the courts. Donate here to help us fight back against actual bullying.)
Jen: “People need to understand that words have severe consequences. You’re not free to say whatever you want. Adult bullying is very real, has very real impact, and that bullying can lead to defamation. I’m asking for other people who are nice to be brave and stand up for it, because I’m gonna be brave, I’m gonna stand up to the bully, hopefully so he doesn’t stand up to them in the future.
Phil: What type of resolution would you like to see?
Jen: I think the legal system will be our resolution.
Please consider supporting local journalism by donating to the Turtle fund:
Hello Turtle Riders. As you know if you follow Turtleboy we are constantly getting censored and banned by Facebook for what are clearly not violations of their terms of service. Twitter has done the same, and trolls mass reported our blog to Google AdSense thousands of times, leading to demonitization. We can get by and survive, but we could really use your help. Please consider donating by hitting the PayPal button above if you’d like support free speech and what we do in the face of Silicon Valley censorship. Or just buy our award winning book about the dangers of censorship and rise of Turtleboy: