Daily Stormer Founder Should Pay ‘Troll Storm’ Victim $14 Million, Judge Says

By Mariel Padilla

It would be the second multimillion-dollar judgment against the publisher of the neo-Nazi site, Andrew Anglin, whose location is unknown.

ImageTanya Gersh, a real estate agent, embraced her father, Lloyd Rosenstein, following a hearing in Missoula, Mont., last week.
Tanya Gersh, a real estate agent, embraced her father, Lloyd Rosenstein, following a hearing in Missoula, Mont., last week.CreditCreditBen Allan Smith/The Missoulian, via Associated Press

The publisher of a neo-Nazi website should pay more than $14 million in damages for encouraging “an online anti-Semitic harassment and intimidation campaign” against a woman in 2016, a federal magistrate judge in Montana recommended on Monday.

In his opinion, the judge, Jeremiah Lynch, also recommended that the publisher, Andrew Anglin, be made to remove all blog posts from the website, The Daily Stormer, that encouraged readers to contact the woman, Tanya Gersh, and her family.

Within months of Mr. Anglin’s call for a “troll storm” against them, Ms. Gersh and her family had received more than 700 vulgar and hateful messages, many referring to the Holocaust. They temporarily fled their home.

Mr. Anglin did not appear in court, and his location is unknown. He did not respond to an email on Monday requesting comment on the lawsuit. And it was not clear how much money if any could ever be collected from him.

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The judge’s recommendations await review by Judge Dana Christensen of United States District Court.

Mr. Anglin is already facing a $4.1 million judgment awarded in June to the comedian Dean Obeidallah in a different lawsuit. That one stemmed from an article falsely accusing the comedian of being a terrorist.

The lawsuit filed on behalf of Ms. Gersh came after The Daily Stormer published a series of articles attacking her after dealings she had with Sherry Spencer, the mother of the white supremacist leader Richard Spencer. The Southern Poverty Law Center filed the suit against Mr. Anglin in April 2017.

Ms. Spencer wrote a blog post that accused Ms. Gersh, a real estate agent in Whitefish, Mont., of threatening and extorting her to sell a building and break ties with her son. Mr. Anglin then called for the “troll storm” by his readers.

On Thursday, Ms. Gersh testified about the emotional toll from the years of harassment.

At one point, she fled her home with her husband and son, who was 12 at the time, because of a threat that an armed group of people was going to march on her house, according to David Dinielli, a deputy legal director at the center, who is representing Ms. Gersh. The march never happened, and she returned home.

“No one should be terrorized for simply being who they are,” Ms. Gersh said in a statement. “This lawsuit has always been about stopping others from enduring the terror I continue to live through at the hands of a neo-Nazi and his followers.”

Mr. Anglin did not appear in court for a deposition hearing in April, and his lawyer withdrew from the case, Mr. Dinielli said. Mr. Anglin did not appear at Thursday’s hearing either.

The opinion filed by Judge Lynch recommended that a default judgment be entered against Mr. Anglin. The judgment in favor of Mr. Obeidallah also came as a default because Mr. Anglin never appeared in court.

Judge Lynch, who found that Mr. Anglin had acted with “actual malice” and that his conduct was “egregious and reprehensible,” recommended that Ms. Gersh be awarded more than $4 million in compensatory damages and $10 million in punitive damages (the maximum under state law).

When asked about the likelihood of Ms. Gersh receiving any money, Mr. Dinielli said it was “more important that she demonstrated to the world that even a real estate agent from Montana can take on the world’s most notorious neo-Nazi.”

Mr. Dinielli said the court is required to wait at least two weeks after a magistrate judge’s recommendation before a ruling can be made.

“Mr. Anglin has not appeared since his lawyer was excused,” Mr. Dinielli said, “and has made no further indication that he’ll be participating in any way in these proceedings.”

Mr. Anglin has faced several lawsuits in the past few years.

In addition to the lawsuits filed on behalf of Ms. Gersh and Mr. Obeidallah, he was sued in 2018 by Taylor Dumpson, the first black woman to serve as American University’s student government president. She became an online target after her inauguration.

A version of this article appears in print on , Section B, Page 5 of the New York edition with the headline: Founder of Neo-Nazi Site Loses ‘Storm Troll’ Suit. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe