In an important First Amendment case, The Kaplan Law Firm currently represents a client being sued for, according to the lawsuit against her, reporting that she was sexually assaulted.  This case highlights an unfortunate aspect of our legal system—individuals who have money can sue others who say things that they do not like, even if they have little hope of winning the case, and use the enormous costs of defending oneself from a lawsuit for defamation to silence such individuals.  This is especially problematic when this tactic is used to keep victims of sexual assault from speaking out.

An article on the case is available here.  Individuals who support my client have set up a legal defense fund to help defray the substantial costs she is incurring in her effort to protect her First Amendment right to free speech.  A link to that fund is here.  The case is Brett Wade v. Erin Chaney Foster, No. 1:17−cv−01371−GLR and is in the United States District Court for the District of Maryland in Baltimore.

Some of the case’s details are unusual.  My client is a burlesque performer whose stage name is Sophia Sunday.  The Plaintiff who is suing her says he (and my client) are active in the alternate lifestyle “Kink Community” which engages in a variety of erotic or sexual practices, including “bondage, discipline, dominance, submission and other adult-themed activities”  and that he is an expert and educator in the Japanese art of “rope bondage” or “Rope-Play.”

But, while these details may be interesting, this is not a case about somewhat unconventional sexual practices, but about Freedom of Speech and, in particular, the ability of victims of sexual assault to speak out without fear that the legal system will be used to intimidate them into silence.