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State rep files libel suit against Granite State author

Union Leader Correspondent

March 27. 2018 1:42PM

BRENTWOOD — Northwood Republican state Rep. Brian J. Stone has hit New Hampshire writer Rebecca Rule with a libel suit over comments he says she posted on Facebook suggesting he didn’t vote in Northwood’s election earlier this month.

The suit filed in Rockingham County Superior Court last week accuses Rule of publishing defamatory and false statements concerning Stone’s voting in the town election on March 13.

In the suit, Stone claims Rule, who also lives in Northwood, posed a question to him on a Facebook forum called “Northwood NH News” on March 13 asking if he had voted in the election.

She addressed him as “BJ Stone.” Stone claims he told her in the past that his name isn’t “BJ” and prefers to be called by his real name.

“Plaintiff let defendant know that he would not answer her question until she addressed him appropriately. Plaintiff let defendant know that as long as defendant was addressing plaintiff as ‘BJ’ that he would be addressing her as ‘Ronald,’” the suit said.

He responded to her question by posting, “Did you vote Ronald? When you start addressing me appropriately I’ll start answering your questions and stop calling you Ronald.”

Stone alleges that Rule began accosting him when he didn’t answer her question by posting several comments over a 20-minute period that included: “Did you vote? Cause word on the street is you didn’t bother,” “Did you vote BJ Ronald Stone?” “Would somebody else ask him cause he’s not speaking to me. Signed Rebecca Ronald Rule,” “But BJ Stone you did not vote?” “You did not even bother to vote?” “How do you spell hypocrite?” “For gods sake you didn’t even bother to vote. Such a hypocrite,” “Signed, Ronald,” “BJ Stone didn’t even bother to vote.”

Stone insisted that he did vote hours earlier and eventually responded to Rule’s posts by saying, “Libel is a crime in NH. Best take that down before I consider legal action,” the suit said.

The suit noted that “many local constituents from Northwood responded and reacted to the defendant’s comments in a negative manner (toward) plaintiff.” The comments were still posted as of Monday afternoon.

Stone claims he notified Rule on March 14 that he planned to file a libel suit and later emailed her offering to resolve the issue privately instead. The suit accuses Rule of returning to Facebook to post that he had threatened to sue her.

Rule then posted what Stone called a “sardonic apology” in which she said she was wrong and that Stone did, in fact, vote. In her post, Rule said she went to the town hall and under the right-to-know law was able to see the checklist.

“I hope Rep. Brian J. Stone will forgive me for posting on this page that he did not vote. I was mistaken. I hope that this heartfelt apology will prevent him from suing me for libel. Before I accuse anyone else of not voting, I will check the records first. I am very bad person and am deeply ashamed of myself for posting something untrue even though at the time I believed it to be true. I hope you will all say a prayer for me to be wiser in my FB posts going forward,” she wrote.

Rule said Monday she didn’t know about the lawsuit and had not yet been served.

Among other things, Stone claims Rule acted with “malice” and did not “exercise reasonable care regarding her postings,” failed to perform “reasonable fact-checking,” and committed libel by insinuating and then presenting false information.

The suit seeks a preliminary injunction against Rule to prevent “further defamation and libel” and damages for alleged harm to Stone’s reputation, mental distress, insult, degradation, injured feelings and pride.

Stone also seeks litigation expenses and punitive damages.

Courts General News Northwood

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