UPDATE Excerpted from the Missoulian 7.16.2019
A federal judge on Monday decided more than $14 million should be awarded to a Whitefish woman who suffered a “troll storm” unleashed by a neo-Nazi website publisher in late 2016.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeremiah Lynch issued his decision on Monday, finding Andrew Anglin owes Tanya Gersh $10 million in punitive damages along with $4,042,438 in compensatory damages.
The ruling comes after a daylong hearing Thursday in which Gersh, her husband, and her therapist testified to the emotional damage caused after Anglin called on his followers on the Daily Stormer to “storm” Gersh’s family.
There are a lot of sick and demented people in America. It defies any sense of humanity that anyone could engage in such abhorrent behavior. Sick and twisted people commit these outrages. No amount of monetary relief will cure the pain inflicted on the subjects of such hate crimes.
Excerpted from The Missoulian 7.11.2019
A Whitefish real estate agent testified for more than an hour in federal court in Missoula Thursday about the “troll storm” of threats and anti-Semitic rants unleashed upon her by neo-Nazi blogger Andrew Anglin.
Attorneys from the Southern Poverty Law Center, who brought the case in 2017 on behalf of Tanya Gersh (picture above), asked U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeremiah Lynch to award more than $4.5 million — $1 million in past lost wages, $2.5 million in future lost wages, $1.2 million in compensatory damages and a punitive damages amount left up to Lynch — in their favor against Anglin.
In a hearing to bolster their claim to that figure, Gersh brought much of the terror she and her family have endured in the last 18 months to the witness stand.
“I’ve lost my sense of safety, security,” she told reporters at a media conference after the hearing. “I don’t know that I’m ever going to get it back.”
In contrast, Anglin was not in court on Thursday, nor was an attorney to represent him. The Ohio native has not appeared in public since he called on the followers of his Daily Stormer website to flood the Whitefish family’s phones, social media and email with hate speech; a barrage described by the federal judge on Thursday as an “atrocity.”
Gersh’s attorney, David Dinelli of the Southern Poverty Law Center, displayed some of those messages, emails and online comments on a large screen.
“Oh, sorry, I think I have the wrong number,” one caller said in a voicemail. “I was looking for the crematorium” — an apparent reference to the crematoria used to burn the bodies of Jews executed in Nazi death camps during World War II. Gersh and her family are Jewish.
“You’re surprisingly easy to find online, and in real life,” another caller said.
These messages were seemingly stoked by the Daily Stormer, where Anglin wrote posts that included photos of Gersh sitting next to a fire with a Star of David on her chest, and her then-12-year-old son superimposed onto another image. Seeing her son’s face, Gersh said, is what urged her and her husband, Judah, to pack their luggage the night they learned of Anglin’s posts.
The Gersh family did not flee that night, but the luggage remained packed for several weeks, Gersh said. She had spent years establishing a career in Whitefish she could be proud of, longer yet building a loving family who felt safe never locking their doors.
“To this day I am just really sick that they could take it all away in a second,” she said.
The emotional trauma that remains a part of her personal and family life to this day began in 2016, when Anglin accused Gersh of trying to force the mother of white nationalist Richard Spencer to sell her building in Whitefish. Anglin posted personal information on Gersh, her husband and their son online, and Gersh received hundreds of threats and anti-Semitic messages.
She now sees a psychiatrist and takes anti-depression medication, Gersh testified. She sought medical treatment for tension in her shoulder, and used to grind her teeth down at night due to stress.