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Journalist faces DEFAMATION SUIT for exposing SEX CRIMES by Professor

October 4, 2020
Mark Slapinski

NEW YORK CITY - Journalist Michael Balter is currently being sued for $18,000,000 for publishing what he claims was the truth about the sexual misconduct of an archaeologist and her former partner at a University of California run program.

Balter claims he has been reporting on Me Too-related cases for 5 years. He claims one of his reports lead to the resignation of the curator for human origins at the American Museum of Natural History.

The Allegations

Balter claims in multiple blog posts that Danielle Kurin - a professor of archeology - and her former partner Enmanuel Gomez engaged in sexual misconduct. This reportedly occured in 2016, during a field placement run by the professor and her partner in Peru.

Danielle Kurin and her former partner Enmanuel Gomez are accused of sex crimes

Kurin is accused of harassment, and her partner is accused of a “serious sexual assault”. To support these claims, Balter refers to a ruling made by the University of California in 2016.

On June 14, 2016, UCSB’s Title IX office found, based on the standard of a preponderance of the evidence, that Gomez had sexually harassed students working with the couple at the field school they ran in the Andahuaylas region. On the same day, Kurin was found guilty, under the same burden of proof, of retaliating against students who had filed Title IX complaints against Gomez.

Michael Barten, Blog Article

On his blog, Balter continues to state Kurin was “placed on administrative leave the previous April, and remained on leave for a total of three years, according to sources inside and outside the UCSB anthropology department.”

Aside from these alleged rulings, the other supporting evidence for these crimes appears to be limited to emails, and third person accounts.

When asked for clarification, as well as copies of source material, Balter stated that he has a copy of the full Title IX investigative report. However, he doesn’t want to release it because it could jeopardize the safety of one of the victims. Toronto Today did not have a chance to review the report in question.

Professor denies claims

Danielle Kurin has denied the claims in a news interview via her lawyer. She filed an $18 million lawsuit against Balter in June, the status of which is in discovery - according to Balter. According to Kurin’s lawyer David Sher, “he’s trying to destroy her. He’s trying to prevent her from getting tenure. That’s what he’s doing. That is why we filed this lawsuit,”

In the civil complaint against Balter, Kurin states Balter made numerous perceived inconsistencies and “falsehoods”. The report acknowledges Kurin is “not a perfect person”. However, it states multiple times Kurin was never found guilty of Title IX violations, which Balter has claimed.

It appears many of these claimed “falsehoods” are merely opinions or speculative theories Balter has published, and not outright lies. Nonetheless, the statement of claim attacks both the content of Balter’s blogs, and the character / credibility of Balter himself.

Balter’s blogs try to thread a conspiracy of malicious administrators of UCSB, IFR, and others that just isn’t there, and his repeated republications of his defamatory blogs demonstrate that he has no intent other than to harm Kurin and generate publicity for himself.

Civil Complaint, Danielle Kurin

The civil complaints lists Balter’s Tweets and claims them as evidence of defamation.

SLAPP Lawsuits

The legal trouble Balter finds himself in could be described as a SLAPP lawsuit. SLAPP lawsuits are defined as a “strategic lawsuit against public participation”.

These lawsuits are not uncommon, and are used when deep-pocketed individuals or corporations want to silence journalists. Many organizations exist to help journalists defend against SLAPP Lawsuits. One organization, Index on Censorship, frequently writes articles that denounce censorship via SLAPP Lawsuits.

According to the Public Participation Project, “SLAPP Lawsuits chill free speech and healthy debate by targeting those who communicate with their government or speak out on issues of public interest”. SLAPP lawsuits are frowned upon by both the free speech and journalistic communities.

Ongoing Lawsuit

Danielle Kurin’s lawyer David Sher is employed by Hoyer Law Group. He is seen here contacting witnesses via Twitter in regards to the ongoing defamation case.

A cobweb of drama continues to unfold on Social Media, as both sides have been getting involved.

David Sher was contacted prior to the publication of this article via his employer’s website. He provided a phone number but Toronto Today was not able to reach him for comment.

[Michael Balter] has published many extreme claims about a Professor, and I’m wondering if:
1 - there are any updates to the case that are in the public interest?
2 - Whether you consider this case a SLAPP lawsuit?
3 - What your clients’ view is for the record?

E-mail to Kurin’s Lawyer

Danielle Kurin was asked a similar set of questions via e-mail, but she has not provided a response.

Despite the ongoing lawsuit, Michael Balter is sticking to his claims, and has hired a “free speech lawyer”. When asked for a statement, he had this to say:

This is a frivolous lawsuit whose main intent is to try to shut up my reporting while she is up for tenure, and also to intimidate survivors of her documented misconduct from speaking up. She is also trying to bully her department and the university into giving her tenure. We are entering into the discovery phase right now which will provide abundant evidence that my reporting was fully accurate and that she is almost sure to lose the case.

Michael Balter

Michael Balter is currently promoting a GoFundMe via Twitter, which at the time of writing is at $11,600. Based on social media posts by Balter, it is clear he is preparing to take this case to trial. Blog posts indicate he is preparing witnesses to record testimony. Some of his supporters are looking to create a “Streisand Effect”.

Despite best efforts, Toronto Today was not able to independently verify Balter’s claims. In defence of his evidence and blog articles, Michael Balter stated he has been a journalist for over 40 years, and gives lectures on the subject.

Do you have information on this case?
Contact [email protected] for tips and journalistic errors.

1 Comment

  1. J Westlake

    Very informative article. Please put commas inside quote marks. Basic English punctuation. Makes the reporting feel less than. Not your fault there doesn’t seem to be adequate editing. Too common these days.

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