Since the #MeToo movement went viral in late 2017, a number of once-powerful celebrities have become synonymous with sexual abuse: Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby, R. Kelly, Matt Lauer, etc.

A once-powerful celebrity you might not immediately recognize is Victor Mignogna. “Vic” to his rabid fans, Mignogna is a former star in the anime industry known for providing the voice of popular characters in the Fullmetal Alchemist and Dragon Ball franchises. And like many of those #MeToo household names, Mignogna was called out for spending the better part of two decades sexually harassing a number of women and girls, including two of his coworkers.

The fallout of his exposure was swift. Mignogna was dropped from one production company, then by another, as more women shared their stories about him on social media. But then Mignogna took a different approach than the men before him: He filed a defamation lawsuit against his victims in Texas, claiming his accusers damaged his reputation by describing their abuse at his hands.

This sort of tactic—attempting to silence someone by suing them—is known as a strategic lawsuit against public participation. SLAPPs use civil litigation to intimidate critics by sapping their time, money, and morale. And the use of SLAPPs has grown alongside the growth of social media. Just in the last year, a doctor sued a patient in New York for $1 million after the woman left a negative review on Yelp, a Missouri man was sued for leaving a three-star TripAdvisor review of a theme park he visited, and a South Carolina restaurant sued a customer after she posted on Facebook that the restaurant’s new management would not honor the owner’s coupons.

But SLAPP suits are particularly vexatious when they are against the victims of sexual assault.

Consider the case of Megan (not her real name), a woman I represented a few years ago. Megan was a member of a local organization in which one of the group’s leaders, Lawrence, came up behind her, reached his arms around her torso, and squeezed both of her breasts. Although Megan never called the police, she notified the other leaders in the organization. Lawrence was expelled. And he then filed a lawsuit against the organization’s other leaders for expelling him—and against Megan for “defaming” him.

Megan had to find an attorney and endure nearly a year of litigation, including answering invasive discovery questions and sitting through a daylong deposition where she was forced to answer still more invasive questions on camera. She won later that year; Lawrence’s lawsuit was rejected. But not before Megan had to repeatedly relive the trauma of being attacked.

Vic Mignogna’s accusers have an advantage that Megan did not: Texas is one of twenty-nine states to enact state laws to punish the use of SLAPPs, known as anti-SLAPP statutes. The Texas Citizens Participation Act provides for an expedited review of SLAPP suits, empowering the court to dismiss them in as little as two months after filing. More importantly, Texas’s anti-SLAPP statute requires a judge to levy sanctions on any plaintiff filing a bumptious SLAPP suit in an amount “sufficient to deter the party … from bringing similar actions” in the future, plus forcing them to pay the victim’s attorney fees, court costs, and all other expenses incurred to defend themselves.

Anti-SLAPPs are a vital tool to protect the First Amendment rights of victims, and robust versions have been enacted in states as red as Texas and as blue as California. Even several of our neighboring states use them:

Georgia’s 1996 anti-SLAPP statute was substantially expanded in 2016, and Tennessee’s first meaningful anti-SLAPP statute went into effect last month.

But for Tar Heels like Megan, our legislators have offered them no protection at all whatsoever. Our politicians dawdle while assault victims get SLAPPed in court—and the continued legislative inaction is inexcusable.

INDY Voices—a rotating weekly column featuring some of the Triangle’s most compelling writers—is made possible by contributions to the INDY Press Club. Visit for more information.

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35 replies on “In North Carolina, Sharing Your #MeToo Story Could Land You in Court”

  1. They have almost 100÷ proved Vic to be innocent you morons.

    Every single shred of “evidence” the people accusing him had… Has vanished… And now these idiots are trying to pretend they never said it…

    They defamed an innocent man and are now paying for it… I will also be forwarding the link to this page to the beard … Vic’s lawyer… Good luck 👍

  2. So its not good to silence the someone becuse they are speaking up and in conscience ruining their life but its ok to silence someone defending themselves

  3. Aside from their horrible spelling and sentence structure, their “rabid-ness” is on full, glorious display. After googling this topic I now have to wash my eyes… Maybe even my brain. The video I watched shows an obviously closeted homosexual in full blown mid-life crisis. I am amazed his fans don’t see it. So glad I don’t have kids. It would break my heart to have to explain why their favorite actor is not who they think he is.

  4. This is incredibly well written and informative. It’s written in a way that those who know law lingo and those who don’t can understand. Thank you for this.

  5. Every thing in this article is either biased or factually incorrect. He automatically speaks as if Vic is convicted of sexual assault. If DOUCHEtte knew anything about the law, he would know that if any of the allegations had merit to them, then the accusers absolutely SHOULD and MUST go to court and PROVE that they are telling the truth, else the accused gets punished with no due process. Then again, the LOLyer spends more time tweeting than practicing law, so this should not surprise me.

  6. I would never advocate suing people to silence their story. Every story has more than one party and one story from two different eyes. And here we read a discussion about allowing protection for people to speak their minds.

    But when they go against the author, your method to silence them is not through legal lawsuit but name calling and bullying?

    You had my attention and belief until I saw this in your google search.

  7. Considering what you mention of decades of harrasment, which are all allegations but never once were they addressed in a police report or formal complaint. The lawsuit was a direction to take as there was evidence of defamation and Tortious Interference from the members being sued. At no point was this to silence victims but when all things considered, Vic was a victim here. The #Metoo movement had a purpose when first brought to light but as of recent, it’s been abused and misconstrued. I’m not in anyway disavowing any victims, but using social media when you had the opportunity to use the proper authorities should not be the way to seek out justice. If anyone has really followed this as much as I have, alot of evidence and affidavits have been debunked and credibility questioned that really makes the case even more in favor of Vic. Another thing is how the author of this article has inserted himself into the Twitter community with countless tweets and actually calling Vic a pedophile and sexual predator without Vic ever being convicted of such a description. This article blurs the lines of half-cocked journalism and biased defamation itself. Please consider what is allowed on your online site with such articles that really are not educating and properly informing people of the subject written. Seeing as this is moderated, I kept it on topic and was not abusive and would like feedback on my reply.

  8. This ” lawyer ” and I use that loosely fails to admit that every one of the so called harassment has been debunked outside one time of eating a jelly bean that was done in good humor by a coworker. All other stories were pulled from a tumbler that was deleted for it being made up stories and from a website called Pretty Ugly Little LIARS. This lawyer is using this story that he has no part of to drum up click bait and support of his failed law practice. He has been proven wrong on his understanding of the evidence or lack of evidence on the women’s side of things their own star witness came forward to say there was no attack or harassment. The women themselves have even ben changing their stories every time they told them.

  9. Oh my god how can you be so wrong.

    He’s suing because he claims the allegations aren’t true and that they are slandering him. He isn’t suing because they ” described their abuse at his hands.” He’s not trying to “silence” their story. He’s claiming that abuse never took place to begin with and, by his claim, he’s defending himself from false accusations.

    Why is taking these matters to court a bad thing? Are we just supposed to believe any old accusation now with no proof to back it up?

    Why is it a bad thing that this matter is in court now? If the court finds that the victims do not have proof to match their claims, congratulations; the man’s name is cleared. If they find that they do have proof and that the man did abuse them, congratulations; predator exposed and the victims win the court case.

    What a horribly misleading article. In the United States, it’s innocent until proven guilty. This isn’t the Salem Witch trials.

  10. With all due respect, you may want to double check your accuracy before posting these kinds of things. I am no fan of Vic, and don’t think much of him as a person, but he’s far from the aggressor in this case.

    He is suing specifically 3 people and one company, none of whom are just innocently telling their story to warn the community.

    There has been no single piece of evidence provided against him by these individuals that didn’t come out later as being clearly fabricated and misrepresented, while the evidence provided makes their stories incredibly suspect. *That* is why they are being taken to court, because making false accusations in bad faith is a key kind of defamation.

    We will see how his case ends up, I’m not expecting him to win it because he can’t seem to prove damages, but that’s the only part of the defamation case he hasn’t very clearly proved.

  11. THERE WAS NO SEXUAL ASSAULT. The entire thing is about Vic behaving inappropriately. Where did you get sexual assault from? The claims that have been debunked?
    Even victims feel the situation is a joke: hugging and kissing on the cheek is NOT assault. Maybe you guys should actually do research into claims on both sides before you post any articles. You guys end up looking like jokes when you don’t.

  12. The problem here is that the whole story is not out and theirs a huge devied of people who belive he is innocent and in fact i belive he is. I have been closely following this for a long time. And honestly if Vic did it then the accused would not be doing so many crazy tatics. They run from court they hide from the police. The courts went to these womans house’s to serve them and they refused to open the door to answer. Then they get on twitter and laugh about it. The courts tried to contact some of the woman on Twitter one of the men serveing sent her a dm on twitter and she retweeted it and laughed at the court system saying she had no intentions of looking at the papers or filling them out. This means Vic will win by default. I’m guessing this comment wont be published however this a very hot story and this artical is takeing a very very very small part of it and trying to use it to make one man look bad when in truth if he did something wrong they would be fighting it in court not sitting at home photo shopping photos to make Vic look bad (yes they did that to make false evidence) so I dunno what else to say. This artical is incomplete and very misleading.

  13. Defamation IS NOT protected by the First Ammendment. Maybe do some research before writing such an intentionally disingenuous hitpiece.

  14. You’re suggestions would make it so that those falsely accused have no way to defend themselves. If some one makes a claim and ruins your reputation you should have every right to make them legally substantiate the claim. Your story is biased and horribly skewed as you instantly say Vic is guilty despite the only witness to any tangible alledge sex based crime to a party involved in the lawsuit denied any such actions taking place under oath. I’m disappointed but not surprised by your lack of ethics.

  15. Merely by these comments the ‘rabid’ vic-fan illustrate the nature of this suit. It’s nearly a all out assault on anything they see not conforming to their world view. It only gets worse with them on other platforms.

  16. I’m sorry but if someone can file a lawsuit against someone and then post defaming comments on social media that have not been proven through the courts, then a retaliatory lawsuit should not be dismissed in an expedited manner. Because if the case against the defendant is not a strong one you should bring it into the courts. Since their are so many frivolous lawsuits in this country, then I do not think there should be Slapp legislation. There are just as many cases where someone’s life or livelihood was destroyed by what turned out to be was frivolous law suit. The court of public opinion can be just as devastating as the court of law.

  17. So you’re just going to ignore the lack of sufficient evidence presented by the accusers? You’re going to ignore that these people consistently lie and threaten Vic? You plan to ignore that they avoided going to court and only aimed to destroy his career and reputation rather than pursue “justice” against him? Look I understand that believing victims is important, but questioning them is also important, without this it allows people to abuse the system and it undermines people actually affected by rape and harassment. It allows future cases of rape and harassment to be trusted less by the public and hurts actual victims, its why so many people feel threatened since these systems can become abusable in the wrong hands and do more harm than good. Enabling the behavior of Monica will only hurt women in the long run and make people more skeptical and not trusting of these cases. But you do you I guess, slander and misrepresent Vic, make yourselves “allies” to Monica and co. but lose the trust of the people who actual care about victims and the precedent this sets.

  18. This was a good read and definitely thought provoking. I am looking forward to reading more about this subject and possibly spread it around my own circle to see what others think.

  19. This article, while informative doesn’t cover the entirety of the story. The lawsuit at the moment is against his former colleagues for tortuous interference with pre existing contracts and defamation per se. I’m not fully certain on the defamation part, I’ve heard it referred to as different than an outright defamation suit but don’t know the specifics. The article doesn’t mention anything about individuals contacting convention centers to get them to violate Mignona’s contracts for scheduled appearances and signings.

    I get it if this article is supposed to be just an extremely broad introduction into the topic but it would help if you gave some supplemental resources for people that wanted to read up more on the situation.

    Cheers for the read though!

  20. The author of this article is absurdly biased. In the golden age of journalism there were standards like presumption of innocence. A real journalist would not assume it was a Slapp case and give both parties the benefit of the doubt until the court resolves the case. This kind of attitude is turning metoo into a witch hunt.

  21. Except you’re forgetting the countless pieces of evidence that prove that he’s actually innocent.

  22. Vic Mignogna has rightfully started legal action after Monica Rial lied about accusations to end the career of Vic due to his popularity. Multiple account of either fake information, doctored photos, group chats about doctoring photos, misrepresentation of images by outside parties when the girls in said images have verified nothing happened.
    Multiple instances where Monica and Jamie have perform illegal actions against Vic.
    I believe in the MeToo movement but this is a gross misrepresentation of what is happening here.
    This is abuse of the MeToo movement to attack someone that has not committed the acts accused. This is akin to a false assault threat, or a false filing of a police report.
    This is not a Slap back at Monica, this is protection of the victim – Vic.

  23. You are forgetting me. Doucette your clients have been caught in multiple lies and her one witness says it didn’t happen nice try though

  24. I found this article on anti-SLAPPs to be informative. It raises good questions as to why there is no federal anti-SLAPP or why states fail to introduce such protections.

  25. Before you write an article saying that Vic Mignogna is a predator and has victims you should really do your homework and see that the people who started this uproar including Rial have been exposed multiple times as lying or some even breaking the law to try and get Vic into more trouble.

  26. I absolutely love how you attack all vic fans by calling us “rabid”

    i also love how youre assuming why vic is doing this

    vics reputation was wrecked by proven lies abd a scandal that never occured

    please indy next time have some journalistic integrity and look into both sides

    the #kickvic side has been actively attacking people who disagree woth them, have been making up false stories, have provided fake evidence in there accusals, and have taken pictures out of context thousands of times

    so please indy again i implore you actually do your due diligence next time around

  27. Maybe all of this is being done because people are starting to wake up and realize that the me-too movement is nothing more than a slander campaign against innocent men with nothing but fake victims making claims. There is quite literally a mountain of evidence and proof showing that Vic mignogna is innocent and that all of these stories and accusations are fabricated. Neither of the people he’s suing are victims. The me-too movement has lost a lot of credibility in the last two years because fake victims abusing the movement so they can pretend to be oppressed and pretend to be victimized so they can gain money and screw up people’s lives intentionally. We need laws in place stating that women that lie about sexual assault must face prison time. It’s unacceptable. And don’t give me that argument saying women don’t lie about rape because they do and if you honestly believe they don’t then you’re just as ignorant as this article. Do not believe all women. Believe facts and evidence first. It’s innocent until proven guilty not the other way around. Remember that.

  28. Have you done any research on the “Victor Mignogna” incident? Any? If you have then you would know alot of the accusations against him are either false or exaggerated. And the “Victims” haven’t been honest much at all. In fact they have been proven to straight out lie and ruin a man’s career. There is so much evidence out there that shows how much the these “victims” have lied and manipulated everyone around them. Please don’t spread false news like this and paint a man to be something he clearly is not. Monica Rial Ron Toye and Jamie Marchi are NOT innocent. Thank you.

  29. I think that the “Vic” case shows a solid reason for states working to adopt anti-SLAPP legislation as soon as possible. There’s a myriad of reasons that victims don’t speak up already, and taking away the “if you speak, I’ll sue you and drain your money and resources” angle would go a long way towards making victims more comfortable.

  30. Literally every shred of info in this article is either biased or factually wrong. DOUCHEtte implies that accusations alone should be the only cause needed for the accused to have their lives ruined, without due process. He can’t even comprehend that if accusations of sexual assault have any basis, the accusers absolutely SHOULD and MUST go to court to prove they are telling the truth. Anything short of that is mob rule. Unless this bald-headed clown who can’t keep enough clients to pay for insurance really thinks we’re still in the days of the Salem Witch Trials.

  31. It’s pathetic that this moron is persisting on an issue he knows nothing about and cherry picks information from rabid detractors whom can’t even provide a shred of evidence months after saying the have it.

    Where’s the very relevant information that Vic Mignogna just remained silent for 5 months before he pursued legal action? Apparently defending yourself is a huge no-no. Sorry, but not all of us are pushovers like this douchette wants us to be.

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