A blogger by the name of Susan Shannon has been ordered to pay $8.4 million to a soldier whose career she ruined with a false rape accusation.
According to The Washington Post, Col. David “Wil” Riggins was a highly decorated serviceman on the verge of being promoted to a brigadier general when, in 2013, Shannon – who hails from Everett, Washington – accused him, via two blog posts and a Facebook status, of raping her in 1986 while they were both cadets.
Not long after, Secretary of the Army John McHugh proposed rescinding Riggins’ consideration for general. Riggins subsequently retired.
He then turned around and launched a lawsuit against Shannon for defamation, claiming her claim was “provably false” and meant “to intentionally derail [his] promotion.”
At the end of the subsequent trial, which ran from late July to early August, the jury sided with Riggins and ordered Shannon to pay him a whopping $8.4 million in damages.
$3.4 million of the judgement was for the damage Shannon caused Riggins’ reputation, while the remaining $5 million was for punitive damages “to make sure nothing like this will ever happen again.”
The Washington Post – citing lawyers for both parties – states that because punitive damages are limited to $350,000 in Virginia, the total amount Shannon ultimately pays will likely be limited to $2.3 million.
Remarkably, despite the effect her false accusations had on Riggins, Shannon continues to play the victim.
“I feel like I’m a financial slave for the rest of my life,” The Washington Post quotes her as stating.
Apparently she’d rather Riggins be a financial slave with no job and a damaged reputation than suffer the consequences of her actions.
Riggins, on the flip side, doesn’t care about the money – he’s just happy his name has been cleared.
“This journey we’ve been on the last four years, it’s been a nightmare,” The Washington Post quotes him as stating.
“The large dollar amount is meaningless. All I was looking for was the opportunity to be vindicated, to set the record straight, to take every action to get my reputation back to where it was.”
This ruling comes not long after Rolling Stone Magazine was forced to hand over $1.65 million to a University of Virginia fraternity its writer falsely accused of gang rape in an infamous 2014 story called “A Rape On Campus.”
As NBC News reports, the story was subsequently found to have significant holes, with it being incredibly likely the girl at the center of the story was never raped at all.
In addition to being forced to pay $1.65 million to the fraternity, The Washington Post reports that Rolling Stone was also forced to pay a former University of Virginia dean $3 million because of the story’s impact on her career.
The story accused Nicole Eramo – who has described herself as profoundly adamant about helping sexual assault survivors – of turning a blind eye to the gang rape incident, which likely never occurred.
Sexual assault and rape are very real issues that are not improved upon at all by those who choose to make false claims.
Please take a moment to pray for anyone currently dealing with the burden of an actual rape or sexual assault while also praying for those who may be innocent but did not get the chance to have their names cleared as Riggins did.