WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Wilmington Mayoral Candidate Paul Knight has filed a lawsuit against an anonymous internet poster who he says slandered his name.
The accusing posts were written by an anonymous user with the cover name "Sandy Brown Realtor" on the Star News website Tuesday, but were quickly taken down.
In the threads, "Sandy Brown" wrote that Knight embezzled money from his company's 401-K plan, which Knight vehemently denies.
"Brown" also wrote Knight was sued for sexual harassment, which is another claim Knight says is not true.
Knight says the allegations are false and wants to prove it. That's why he filed the lawsuit against "John Doe AKA Sandy Brown Realtor" Thursday.
"Opinion and thought and ideas in a public forum is perfect, especially opinion, but not when you're making exact accusations and making other people believe that you have evidence to prove it - that's wrong," said Knight.
Knight is seeking damages of $50,000 from "Sandy Brown", and has subpoenaed the Star News for information about the anonymous online user.
The newspaper has refused, saying in a letter to Knight, that internet users have a "well recognized priviledge given to anonymous speech." Knight disagrees.
"Free speech is one thing," said Knight. "Free speech is saying 'You know, Paul Knight's an idiot and I don't want to see him be mayor.' But when you say: 'Paul Knight embezzled money from his retirement fund for his company and he's been sued twice for sexual harassment,' that's not free speech. That's slander and libel."
The Star News said it does not know who "Sandy Brown" is.