Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Defamation?

This is my 500th post, and it is a long one. In a couple of entries I talked about that I was going through something, but I wouldn't write about it until it was resolved.

That day has come.

A couple of months ago I awoke to find that I had been served with legal papers. I was being sued by Alejandro, a local buggaron, for writing about him on my blog. And according to him, for "defaming" his character. The item in question was written almost 1 1/2 years go.

Honestly, I was not surprised. People had been telling me to be careful, that Alejandro was threatening to "do something to me." I had also received a phone call from another American who lives here to tell me that they saw Alejandro coming out of the District Attorney's office here in the Colonial Zone of Santo Domingo. Alejandro told him he was suing me and blah, blah, blah.

The conventional wisdom was that some nefarious character (American?) was behind this whole episode. Someone who hates me so much and this would be a way to give me my comeuppance. As I talked to people I started to think maybe it was true. I mean it wasn't possible that Alejandro could think this up on his own? Was it?

In my naivete I just assumed that right always triumphs over evil. And once I went down and explained my side of the story this would all be laughed about and thrown out. I received the paper on a Wednesday, and was scheduled to appear the next morning at 9am. As I just got the papers at the last minute, my lawyer was not able to go with me to meet the D.A. She advised me to go and get a postponement until she could go with me.

I went to the meeting and there was Alejandro, looking smug, and playing the victim role like a third-rate TV actor. I was impressed with his lawyer. He was dressed in a very nice suit, and had a gregarious manner with all the staff and you could tell that he was very comfortable (AND confident) in this environment.

Still, I thought all would be well, once I was able to tell my side of the story.

Before I met with the D.A. his lawyer had a private audience with her for almost 40 minutes. I was then ushered in the office with my friend. I brought my friend because I wanted to be certain that I didn't say the wrong thing in Spanish. From the first 2 minutes I could see that according to the D.A., I was in the wrong. I told her what I wrote I could prove. She told me it wasn't important. That I could not write that. I was told that I needed to respect Alejandro, as being a buggaron was not against the law.

For a moment I thought I was being "Punk'd." There had to be a camera taping this whole episode. But no, this was the real thing.

I can tell you I left the D.A.'s office more than a little concerned. This couldn't be happening. Was it possible that I could write about events that I could proved were true, and it was illegal to do in the Dominican Republic. I wondered if the numerous daily newspapers, television gossip shows, and blogs had the same problem.

I spoke with my lawyer, and she assured me that she could get this taken care of with just an apology and removal of the offending blog entry. That I had nothing to worry about. I, of course, wanted to fight this bullshit on principle, but just wanted to get rid of the nuisance.

My lawyer is a lovely woman, honest as the day is long, and a Christian. Of course she knows that I'm gay and what the blog is about. But, I had not taken into consideration that she might not want to be involved in something like this. She is a respectable woman. I asked her if she felt comfortable handling this for me, she said no problem.

A couple of weeks later my lawyer and I go back to the D.A.'s office. And my lawyer folded like a house of cards. Alejandro's lawyer dominated the proceedings, and my lawyer sat there nodding at everything he said. I sat there incredulous. How could this be happening. Everyone was throwing around large sums of money that I should give to Alejandro for the harm that I brought to his reputation, and for being responsible for him not being able to make money as a buggaron.

WHAT THE FUCK????!!!!!!

As I leave the meeting my lawyer she says to me in Spanish, "Anthony, you made an error. I will work out a deal with his lawyer. You don't have to pay the money all at once."

Come again?

I told her I needed the weekend to think about it and would call her. I immediately went back home and starting making phone calls. I called a friend who knows a well-connected corporate attorney here. I met with several lawyers. Didn't really "feel" right about any of them.

The one thing no one could tell me is whether I had done anything illegal. No one seemed to know, exactly. What they could tell me is that for a nice sum of money they could make the whole thing go away. I started to think, well maybe I had somehow broke the law. To me it seemed so open and shut, but then I am not a student of Dominican Jurisprudence.

While searching on the Internet, I found the number for the Dominican Bar Association. I thought, what the hell, let me call and see if they can suggest someone who specializes in defamation.

If only I had done this earlier.

The Bar Association put me in contact with 2 lawyers. One is a professor at the University of Santo Domingo, AND the vice-president of the Dominican Bar Association. The other was his partner, who is legal counsel to the Renaissance Jaragua Hotel. After 5 minutes with them I knew these were the guys. First, they told me that they could not tell me what it would cost to represent me, because they needed to know all the facts. They asked me to email them the blog item I wrote, and they would have it translated into Spanish. Then we would talk.

When I met them again, they had done so much in 2 short days. They got a copy of Alejandro's arrest record, had the blog entry translated and most importantly, told me that I had done nothing wrong. Then they told me that they were going to refer me to some junior associates, because if they personally handled the case it could be expensive. They told me their fee. It wasn't cheap, but I thought I could work with it. AND most importantly, I wanted to walk in to the D.A.'s office sending a signal that I was ready to battle this shit.

When they pulled up in their big, late-model S.U.V.'s, and their dark-blue suits, I finally felt like maybe the tide was going to shift. As luck would have it, Alejandro's lawyer knew who they were, and upon seeing them with me sighed, "Ay mamacita." My lawyers told me not to speak to anyone and to let them do all the talking. I happily obliged. All the lawyers went to have a little conference. I was then called over and my lawyers informed me that they were still sticking with the argument that they wanted a lot of money.

Okay. They said then the next step is to go to court. And that was what I was willing to do. I wanted to go in and ask if someone could tell me how it was possible that you can have someone who "allegedly" robs, threatens and intimidates tourists, and it was illegal to talk about it.

We left and nothing was resolved. Got another court date. My lawyers told me that I didn't need to go, that they would take care of everything.

After my second court date with the new lawyers, I started getting people coming to tell me that Alejandro wanted to drop the whole thing. All he wanted was money for his lawyer, and a little money for himself. I would tell them all the same thing. I have already used that money for my defense. In other words, Hell NO!

Then Alejandro starting speaking with other Americans so that they would talk to me to let me know that he is a changed person. He was really sorry and just wanted this whole thing to go away.

The motherfucker was never sorry. He just saw the opportunity for an easy payday slipping away. He thought by letting me know how sorry he was that I would just somehow forget that he was trying to fuck me, and not in a nice way.

Well, it is all over. Alejandro stopped by the other day and left all his papers from the case and told my maid that he just wants to get back into the places he's been banned from. Oh, did I mention that he couldn't even eat in the Colonial Zone because of what I had written? Even though he and others don't believe it, I don't have that kind of power.

Sometimes you have to fight. Even when everyone tells you how stupid it is and why not just give him some money to make it go away. What would that accomplish? For me, it would be admitting guilt. Did I mention that I did nothing wrong. What message would this send to others who felt that maybe this was a way to get some money out of the "rich" ex-pats? Call me a cynic, but I believe that if gave money to Alejandro some other people here would've gotten similar ideas.

I have said before and I will say it again. I don't trust Alejandro to spit on me if I were on fire.

Remember, if you see the motherfucker, RUN!

What is the moral of the story?

Don't fuck with me!

As I was writing this entry I couldn't help but think about all the things I have gone through on this journey moving here. I have had many ups and downs, but like the words in my favorite Maya Angelou poem, "Still I Rise."

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still,

Like air,

I'll RISE!

As ever,
The Monaga Blogger

41 comments:

Anonymous said...

I have been reading your blog for a long time now (I remember that entry) and I would just like to say I feel PROUD to know that you stood up to for your rights, you see so many people gay mainly in this country let them selfs bullied due to the fear of being outed or if there "out" of being publicized. So I just wanted to let you know that you did the right thing, Good does Triumph over evil but only when good fights like Hell to win.

ALL THE BEST!
Guillermo

Monaga said...

Thank you very much, Guillermo!

Scott said...

Hey Anthony,
Glad to hear that all of this bullshit is over with.
Now time to move on.
Much Love!

John K said...

You. Betta. Work! I'm so glad this is over, Anthony, and I have to say, not only am I glad that you triumphed in the end, but the way you told it was also outstanding. I love Santo Domingo Invita, but you know, you deserve your own life-in-DR show.

Anonymous said...

Well done Anthony.This seems like a nightmare you woke up from.The whole thing backfired on this Alejandro.I remember the blog about him, but would like to see his photo again if you could direct me to the blog date..Keep up the good work you do,just be careful.

Anonymous said...

you dont have to post this...i found the photo and i now see the slime all over the worm

Nena Nuyorican said...

That is so strange, even in the USA it's hard to sue anyone for things appearing on the "internet"....I'm not an attorney but how can they prove anything on the internet....again I see it as a way to TRY TO STICK IT TO AMERICANS...I've heard it over and over from some of the ex-pats how they get sued by the locals and win.
Sorry to hear you had to spend money on lawyers but even more so HAPPY THAT FREE SPEECH PREVAILED(even on the internet)

I'm still baffled by the nerve of the judicial system in the DR to even consider this.

I also went after a trannie that lived in Connecticut back in 2002 who was one of my close friends for creating a home page with lies and vicious rumors about me and my family. AOL did remove the homepage and I filed charges in NYC and Connecticut against that sick child and all "HE" got was a warning unless I wanted to go to small claims court and sue...If I had a car to drive back and forth and was unemployed that bytch would of felt my total wrath but missing many days of work was not worth it.....and Anthony ..THIS IS THE USA WHERE IT HAPPENED...it was quite different that your situation as the trannie was definitely, "deframing our character.
GOOD LUCK- FREE SPEECH on the INTERNET-THE TRUTH SHALL SET YOU FREE!

Anonymous said...

Congrats. I've been reading your blog for almost two years and have always enjoyed your tips, pictures, news and other observations. Continued success and if I see you when I arrive next month, a night of drinks will be on me.

CLOAKED said...

Like Auntie-mae said "Don't Fuck With Me Fellas!... I've been to the Rodeo before!"

Anthony I'm glad to hear that everything is OK like I said before I'm here if you if you need me And I will always be here for you.

I will leave this entry with your words "Not one Mother Fucking Five Peso I said!"
-Anthony Montgomery

Anonymous said...

Wow, Anthony. This was like reading a great chapter in a good thriller novel. Glad to see that the truth prevailed in the end. Also, I think you are so right about the message it would've sent to local hustlers that wanted to make a fast buck. If you did not fight this battle, it would've opened the flood gates for others to be sued for all kinds of frivilous things. Many should be greatful for this. Hopefully that snake slithers back into his hole.

the Allen gallery said...

Of course you kicked Ass! We wouldn't have it any other way.

Keep swingin Anthony!

C

WhozHe said...

Good for you Anthony. Clearly you were never in the wrong, I do believe someone put him up to this get rich quick scheme. Right does win out in the end after all. Hooray!!

Bernie said...

I'm glad you chose to fight the suit and found a lawyer who would stand up for you. That first lawyer seems to have let her personal beliefs stand in the way of her willingness to represent a client.

I've also faced accusations and threats from people attempting to stop the truthful things I've written about. They too threatened lawsuits, without a legal leg to stand on. I know laws are different in DR, but in the U.S., libel is very hard to prove and you can't sue someone across state lines.

This may not be much use to you there, but perhaps will be of value to other bloggers here in the states. Harvard University Law School has a legal clinic dealing with these types of internet issues. Go here for more information.

Nena Nuyorican said...

AFter I read the Blog and commented, I was still baffled with the Judicial System in the DR....and I guess I will continue to be baffled. The first lawyer was a disappointment and it was clear who was her first priority (not you as her client-sorry)! The DR government would allow a criminal to prevail over an AMERICAN that actually is helping to provote tourism in the DR (bring money to the local businesses,restaurants, feed the poor-yes, not every gay american tourist is out for sex from the lil kids, shoe shine boys--some do buy them food and give them money from the heard) but in their eyes we are below the local criminals, thieves and lowlives...why? Is it because we are americans? Reminds me when I was at Hamaca Hotel in Boca Chica and someone at the resort robbed my beach towel(the hotels beach towel) when I filed a complaint the dominican woman at customer relations told me in a very arrogant way....YOU know how many hotel guests say their towel was robbed at the beach? Then in spanish I told her....I have 500 american dollars with me in cash, I would invite you to the room and you can have security with you, you have full access to the room, to my luggage and the security vault in the room....IF YOU find the towel, you can keep the 500 american dollars..IF YOU don't find the towel then I can punch you in your MOUTH....deal? to be continued, LOLLLLLL

fuck em Anthony!

Anonymous said...

I WISH YOU WOULD WRITE A BOOK. YOU CAN USE THIS AS ONE OF THE CHAPTERS.

I felt like I was there with you. Great story and yes good always triumphs over evil in the end.

Anonymous said...

WOW! That was an incredible first read of the day. The New York Post don't want it!! I still owe you a call when I get a looooong minute... Diandra

Anonymous said...

Wow! And we thought you were having writer's block...(smile) Astonishing...." Sometimes all a .... has to hold on to, is.." (smile) Go Ant! Good for You ! and righfully So !

Frank

Professor D said...

Congratulations....

I was visiting the DR when the original incident occurred. Also, remembered your entry warning us all.

Anthony, please write the book. Vicariously, I live through you. Thanks for all you do to keep us informed and for standing up to DRama. Heading to NY...

Professor D, DC

p.s. Great writing! I hope this wasn't an April Fool's joke.

Anonymous said...

OMG!! Was that an April Fool's joke??!! PLEEZE say it ain't so!!

Monaga said...

I only wish that it were an April Fool's joke.

Anonymous said...

My MY Anthony, I can not believe this, you make me proud to be an American and better yet, you were strong in your convictions and stuck to your beliefs of being right and went for the long hall, no matter what.If you had not hard telling how many others would have tried to get on the same band wagon, so really you did all of us a big favor, thanks you so much.Keep up the great work in and out of court.. smile.Jim From Houston

Anonymous said...

My MY Anthony, I can not believe this, you make me proud to be an American and better yet, you were strong in your convictions and stuck to your beliefs of being right and went for the long hall, no matter what.If you had not hard telling how many others would have tried to get on the same band wagon, so really you did all of us a big favor, thanks you so much.Keep up the great work in and out of court.. smile.Jim From Houston

Nena Nuyorican said...

Brings new meaning to the term,"DRama Republic"

The buggarons will now try to get unionized, LOLLLL!

Anonymous said...

The truth may set you free, but it may get you into some deep shit, too. Anthony must of known that writing about Alejandro could bring some measure of trouble but decided to do so in spite of what could happen. For this and other information he has provided on his blog, we must be grateful. How can we show our appreciation? We need to put our money where our mouth is by staying at Camilo House when we are in Santo Domingo. I know for a fact that some people who post here stay at other places when they are in SD. So, unless Camilo House is full, or we are traveling with our aged grandmother who can't climb the stairs, we must make a conscientious decision to back Anthony on his business venture. Our moral support may be wonderful, but our money puts bread on his table and helps him to pay his bills. I rest my case!
From Puerto Rico,
Rafael

CLOAKED said...

I vote Camilo House is one of the best places to stay in Santo Domingo, If not the best! Its like a home away from home everyone is Happy, Friendly, Kind and Drama free.

Keep up the good work Anthony by the way I’m coming next week...you got a Apt available? "let a color gurl know" :)

Anonymous said...

Anthony, I hope you make the names of these lawyers available in the event others of us are caught in this same trap.....Alejandro is not the only one........

Merrick said...

Congrats Anthony!
I'm always in your corner.
Keep bloggin baby!

Merrick

Janette said...

YEA ANTHONY!
So glad you stood up to the creep. I remember that blog entry also and told many about it so they would beware.
I'm proud of you.

T-D Moderator said...

Anthony, I'm happy to know that the outcome of the ordeal reads "justice."

This is not just a triumph for YOU, but for all ex-pats, tourists and the LGBT community in general!

Way to go and thanks for your courageous spirit.

Brian said...

Thanks for the warnings about this person. He sounds like bad news. And congratulations on the legal and moral victory! I have no idea what a "buggaron" is (the word doesn't turn up anywhere online except at this blog page), but thanks for warning me about them before I go to Santo Domingo. Whatever they are, they sound horrible!

Anonymous said...

Well "Brian", you need to know what exactly one is before you arrive. A 'buggaron' is someone YOU will PAY to have SEX with!! Some are bad, most are good (in bed), and then there is Alejandro!! As Anthony has forwarned RUN!!!!!!

Nena Nuyorican said...

Buggaron is a well known term (not a dictionary term)used in the Latino/Hispanic community largely in the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico and many years ago in NYC. The term generally meant a "straight" man who has sex with a "gay male" and/or "transsexual(M-F". It has evolved to mean what the above poster has indicated especailly in the DR.

Paul said...

I'm grateful to you Anthony for standing up for what is right and not being intimidated even though the outcome was far from certain when you started. I understand how many people would pay just to make something like this to go away but I think your instincts are right, it would encourage others to copycat the procedure. Unfortunately tourists and ex-pats are often seen as easy marks with big bank accounts.

I think it is also a testament to the power of being out in in your life. Someone who is on the DL could easily be blackmailed by something like this. I still don't really understand why some guys are so proud to claim to live on the DL.

I'm glad the trauma is over for you and thank you for the service you have done us all.

Paul Culver

Anonymous said...

no worry jou wil get jaws real soon and make jou leave the coutry jou no dominican hombre jou americano homosexual. policia wil get jou jes and back to estados unidos jou go. all dominicanos be happy,fagey go home

Anonymous said...

LOL! Anthony, I bet if you check the ip of that post it came from the states. jaws. LOL!

Anonymous said...

Yes...it is so obvious that they were attempting to immitate a spanish accent...Let them try again, this time with a german accent...I need another good laugh

Anonymous said...

That sounds like prison inmate Leon Land (Forman) is he out yet?

Anonymous said...

Puleeze! Let's NOT go that way again. Anthony, time to close this thread.

Anonymous said...

I am still cracking up from this story (and that fake hate mail with the phoney Spanish!). I am so glad you prevailed over this obvious shakedown. I can't wait to get back to teh Dr. It's been 2 years now and I am overdue!!

mlovehoustonfa said...

Well, it has been a long time since I blogged on here, Let me say that I am PROUD of you!! You stood up for what you believe in and what is right. I havent met this character as I havent been there in a couple of years, but I can't wait to play catch up with you....And good that you let M/F's know that no matter where you are in the world, there is nothing wrong with speaking the truth. MISS YA, MAN!!!
MIKEY

Anonymous said...

Anthony, your diligence has provided an invaluable service to those of us who have visited the Dominican Republic. I'm certain that many have benefitted from your admonitions, and likely would have been victim to Alejandro's misconduct but for your efforts. You do so out of genuine concern for your fellow man, regardless of his nationality, without asking anything (other than bagels) in return. I would imagine that you've accumulated a nice debt for your attorney's fees and I'd like to make a small contribution to offset them. Let me know how. John