Monday, September 21, 2009
$88K libel judgment follows woman’s three-year Internet harassment of swim coach
The Internet has put an incredible amount of power, for good or ill, in the hands of anyone who can operate a computer. Occasionally there is a news story about that power that just makes your jaw drop.
A Connecticut high-school science teacher and swim coach was awarded an $88,000 judgment by a civil court after the mother of a swim team member persistently harassed her by email for nearly three years.
Teacher and coach Mary Anne Bojko, 44, of East Hartford, Conn., won the judgment against Laurie Lima, the mother of the women’s swim team captain Rachel Lima. Bojko and Rachel got along well.
Laurie Lima falsely accused Bojko of telling swim team members to keep secrets from their parents. She often would send 30-40 email messages per day, accusing Bojko of being abusive and said she was "one step away from a pedophile." Lima emailed the accusations to other teachers, school administrators, state legislators and the governor’s office.
Bojko was forced to stop coaching two years after she took the job and take two paid leaves of absence from her teaching job.
Judge Julie Aurigemma, who ruled that Lima had libeled Bojko and was responsible for intentional infliction of emotional distress, called the attacks "malicious, outrageous and evil"
Bojko grew up in East Hartford and was on the high school swim team when it was coached by her father.