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Judge delays blog lawsuit ruling

December 11, 2012
By DAVE GOSSETT - Staff writer ( , The Herald-Star

STEUBENVILLE - An Internet blogger who allowed anonymous comments regarding a rape investigation that led to the arrest of two Steubenville High School students to be posted on her blog site still has not been served with legal papers stemming from a slander lawsuit.

And after hearing arguments from Shawn Blake representing Cody Saltsman and his parents, as well as Thomas Haren who represents Alexandria Goddard of the blog site, Jefferson County Common Pleas Court Judge David Henderson delayed a decision until he reviews court cases cited during the 25-minute hearing Monday.

Blake asked the judge to rule Goddard had been served with notice of the lawsuit, "and that she has waived service by actively litigating the case."

Blake also asked the judge to agree to a publication of the lawsuit in the Herald-Star to serve as legal notice to Goddard.

But Haren said the plaintiffs suing Goddard, "want to put my client into a Catch-22 position."

"She has not been served and has not waived that service. The plaintiffs are trying to bait my client. Their private investigators sat outside of a building for hours where my client once lived. Being aware of what is going on is not equal to service on my client. To say we are engaged in deception is hog wash," said Haren.

"My client's whereabouts is known to us through our attorney-client privilege. And I am not going to violate an attorney client confidentiality. She has asked us to keep her address confidential. And we are under no obligation to provide our client's whereabouts in order to accept service," said Haren.

Blake said Goddard has left Columbus and was living in Bridgeport.

"We are asking for the court to rule service has been met and the defendant should answer the complaint. We are not asking for the defendant's address. We want to serve notice on her. My clients have spent $6,100 on private investigators who have tried to serve the defendant," added Blake.

He accused Goddard of transferring the blog site to a company in Hong Kong.

"And she has blogged that she is destroying evidence and is making attempts to stop the Saltsmans from obtaining justice. This is all about delaying justice, destruction of data and evading service," argued Blake.

"You have to follow the rules. And there is still time to follow those rules," noted Haren.

"I will take this under advisement to review the court cases cited today. It is a bit odd when a client doesn't appear in court or answer the service. But I will rule after reviewing the court cases," announced Henderson.

Blake said the next hearing on the case will be held Monday regarding individuals who left comments on the blog site.

The Saltsmans are seeking an injunction to have alleged false and defamatory statements removed from the blog site and also are seeking monetary damages and a public apology along with monetary damages in excess of $25,000.

The lawsuit claims Goddard created several blogs on her Internet site regarding the alleged sexual assault.

The lawsuit also names 15 people as defendants by the fictitious names they created and registered on the blog.

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