After a “professional sugar baby” went on a campaign of revenge targeting her ex-boyfriend, the district court awarded $7.5 million in damages to the ex-boyfriend. The woman’s actions spanned 17 months and included multiple defamatory postings on her social media accounts, as well as the creation of many fake social media profiles in the ex-boyfriend’s name, which she used to distribute false and harmful content to her ex-boyfriend’s personal and business contacts.
John Doe is a 45-year-old technology professional employed as a Senior Director at a consulting firm. Jessica Jiahui Lee is a 19-year-old part-time exotic dancer and “professional sugar baby” who enters into relationships with affluent men in exchange for gifts, travel, and a life of luxury. Doe met Lee in or around February 2017 while traveling to Las Vegas, Nevada for business. The two began a casual dating relationship in March 2017, which lasted for approximately seven months.
After the two broke up, Lee incessantly called and sent Doe text messages at all hours of the evening. When Doe ignored Lee’s calls and texts, Lee falsely accused Doe of rape and abuse, both verbal and physical. Lee sent messages to that effect to Doe’s estranged wife while Doe and his wife were in the midst of divorce proceedings. Lee also posed a message on her Instagram account, which has over 30,000 followers, alluding to an abusive relationship with a man who was going through a divorce. Though Lee did not identify Doe in the post, one of the commenters on Lee’s post identified Doe by name. In October 2017, Lee created a Craigslist advertisement titled “FIND THE MAN WHO RAPED MY 9 YEAR OLD DAUGHTER,” in which she falsely accused Doe of raping her non-existent daughter and included Doe’s Instagram handle and cell phone number.
Additionally, Lee created multiple fake accounts in Doe’s name across various social media and dating platforms in October and November 2017. Lee also vandalized Doe’s car. Lee continued her behavior even after Doe obtained an order of protection and threatened legal action. In February 2018, Doe sued Lee, alleging defamation, false light invasion of privacy, public disclosure of private facts, tortious interference with business expectancy, vandalism/damage to property, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and negligent infliction of emotional distress.
In the district court, Doe moved for a default judgment. Though Lee answered the initial complaint denying some of the complaint’s paragraphs while invoking the Fifth Amendment in response to a majority of allegations, she did not plead any substantive affirmative defenses or claim any privileges were applicable in regard to the allegedly defamatory speech. In January of 2019, Doe became aware that Lee had continued to create defamatory social media posts and profiles of and concerning him. Later that month, Lee’s counsel filed a Motion to Withdraw, which was granted in February 2019. The court found that Lee displayed a staggering amount of deliberation, effort, and unyielding malice in her conduct regarding Doe. The court stated that Lee’s conduct was pervasive and continuing in nature even after the commencement of the lawsuit. The court determined that Doe demonstrated the allegations in his complaint and affidavit. The court then determined that Lee’s complained-of behavior was of such a pervasive nature that it justified damages beyond those to account for reputational harm, and indeed called for exemplary damages. The court ultimately entered a judgment in Doe’s favor and awarded $2,600,000 in compensatory damages and $5,000,000 in punitive damages.
You can read the full decision here.
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