It seems we have another librarian lawsuit, again in Canada. Joe Murphy is suing two librarians–nina de jesus and Lisa Rabey–for $1.25 million in damages for publicly calling him a sexual predator. That’s a lot of alleged damages.
Apparently, the allegations started on Twitter, but here’s where I first ran across the discussion back in May. That they called him a sexual predator isn’t really in doubt. Here are two quotes from the blog post:
Joe Murphy, a fairly ubiquitous presence in the library conference circuit, has been continuously sexually harassing women at these conferences (and one imagines pretty much anywhere he goes)….
Can I point out the fact that Joe Murphy’s behaviour is so well known that women attending lib conferences literally have instituted a buddy-type safety system to protect themselves? That — quite literally — they are afraid to be alone with him?
The defense in the lawsuit will be that they didn’t defame him because it’s true. The Team Harpy link has calls out for witnesses and legal fund donations if you’re interested in supporting the librarians being sued.
One of the things I wondered about when the Edwin Mellen Press sued Dale Askey is whether the lawsuit might bring the wrong kind of attention to the plaintiff. Dale Askey went from being a relatively unknown librarian to becoming a minor cause celebre among librarians and other academics, and I don’t think the EMP came off well at all from a public relations perspective. I wonder the same thing here, and whether the fact of the lawsuit might hurt Murphy within the librarian community more than any accusations of sexual harassment.
I don’t have any personal knowledge about this. I met Joe Murphy in person one time and was in his company for about five minutes, and I’ve never heard him speak at a conference. I had one Twitter interaction with nina de jesus regarding the Enlightenment where we each decided that we were right even though we completely disagreed with each other, so pretty typical for an Internet discussion. I have also witnessed no sexual harassment at library conferences, but then again I’m a man and thus probably wouldn’t be around when it happened.
However, it’s hard to believe that people would just make up stuff like this, especially targeting a specific person. Tales of sexual harassment at library conferences make the rounds, but I haven’t seen any librarians actually named (well, at least not publicly in writing), and it would seem strange to me that people would make up something as detailed as a “buddy-type safety system.”
Other than that, I don’t have an opinion about this I’m willing to share publicly, but I wanted to write in case any of you who hadn’t seen this already have witnessed stuff or would like to give the defense some money.