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Zephania Waks Threatens Us With A Defamation Suit

December 12, 2013 – 9:43 am19 Comments

By Alex Fein (Editor): defamation2I received the email below from Zephania Waks. It threatens us with a defamation suit, despite my best efforts to moderate fairly, unless I offer him a public apology. It is important to note that to the best of our knowledge, Mr. Waks has not sought legal action against Facebook, on which far worse comments remain to this day. At Galus, the little revenue we have sought and received goes to keeping us online. I do this job voluntarily. I’d therefore be interested in any offer of assistance – legal or otherwise – in the matter concerning Mr Waks. Please note: any comments of a personal or insulting nature regarding Zephania Waks or his family will be summarily deleted and the commenters suspended. Please do not make my job any harder by posting them. Zephania Waks’s lawyer writes (subject line: “Galus Australia [sic]”) “Dear Ms Fein Mr Zephaniah Waks has brought to my attention the following defamatory post from the Galus Australia website (from on or about 5 December 2013): “[content of comment removed] I am also aware that you have subsequently removed the post and apparently banned the person who made the comment from providing future posts/comments to Galus Australia. Please take note of the following: 1.     As the publisher and moderator of the Galus Australia website, you are liable for defamatory posts made by your readers (whether anonymous or otherwise); 2.     Your practice of editing/removing defamatory posts after complaints are received does not alter your liability for their original publication. In light of the above, you should amend your publishing policy and moderate comments before they are posted.  Failure to do so will leave you exposed to legal liability for your past (and any future) publication of defamatory material on Galus Australia. On behalf of Zephaniah Waks, I request that a prominent apology to Zephaniah Waks and his family be placed on the Galus Australia website within 7 days (by 5.00pm on Wednesday 18 December 2013).  Further, I request that a draft of the apology be provided to Zephaniah Waks and I (for perusal and comment) by 5.00pm tomorrow, Thursday 12 December 2013. Yours sincerely Anton Hermann Director, Pro Bono”

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19 Comments »

  • Expediency says:

    Just post whatever apology Alex… They can write it up even… Don’t bother yourself.

    Make whatever commitments re: doing your best with the troll comments and move it forward Alex…

    We – the readers – all know you’re doing a sensational job with perhaps the most complicated set of issues this community has or will ever see… With new technology that allows anyone any comment at any time.

  • Geoffrey says:

    This is a mischaracterisation of the letter you received, at least from the excerpt you provide. They have not threatened to sue you – in fact, they have quite reasonably sought a way for you to AVOID being sued in the future. If you are unable to moderate apparently defamatory comments, then you should not have them in the first place. The fact that “Mr. Waks has not sought legal action against Facebook, on which far worse comments remain to this day” is of course a silly defence. It would not suffice to the school principal when caught throwing rocks – “But Jiohnny threw more rocks than me!” – let alone an alleged defamation of a man of good character.

  • Steven says:

    Alex,
    I can assure you that Zephania Waks will never sue you or anybody else for anything of this nature. Truth has been ruled a valid defense in cases of this nature, and the last thing Mr. Waks would risk is a cross-examination on the stand. [content removed]

  • Geoffrey says:

    Steven

    You write “the public would get to learn much more about the man (Zephania Waks) and his history in a very legal manner, and this circus might finally be over.” You are clearly in possession of relevant information, so instead of cowardly innuendo, why don’t you just be specific? What would we learn about this man and what is his history? What has he done to deserve defamatory accusations? If, as you write, “Truth has been ruled a valid defense in cases of this nature”, what is the “truth” as you know it about Mr Waks? We await your full response.

  • wakstruecolours says:

    my thoughts exactly.
    so alex, you finally received “the letter”
    [content removed]

    glad to see waks making this all about protecting children.

    certainly a great way to win supporters, hey waks?

    [content removed]

    (the grown up court word for this is ‘frivolous’)

    alex, he cant do anything to you legally, so I would ignore it.
    [content removed] at least now everyone can see what kind of person he is.

  • John says:

    Geoffrey,
    Are you serious? I hope you are a troll, because based on this article you would have to be insane to really believe what you wrote.

  • polygraph says:

    perhaps seek legal advice from a pro-bono lawyer in relation to:

    1) if the ‘innocent dissemination defence’ is applicable to you?

    2) if you remove defamatory material as quickly as humanly possible will that mitigate any damages pursuant to section 38 of the Defamation Act 2005?

    3)Since GA is most likely a blog, should defamatory statements on GA be taken in context— both the immediate context and the broader social context— since it is apparent that many of the allegedly defamatory statements cannot be interpreted as stating actual facts, but instead are either subjective speculation or merely rhetorical hyperbole?

    In summary, don’t necessarily take Anton Herman’s words as gospel. although his points are arguable, there may be legitimate counter arguments in your defence.

  • Steven says:

    To Geoffrey and other suspected and assorted [content removed] trolls:
    For starters-
    Abuse is subject to a range of definitions and circumstances. [content removed]
    Others might speculate that children with certain issues that react in certain ways could be a result of their home environment [content removed].
    Just saying…..

    And- that’s just for starters.

  • WasThere says:

    Alex you will find lots of useful and accurate info at this link which should help you…..

    http://www.artslaw.com.au/info-sheets/info-sheet/legal-issues-for-bloggers/

    Most noteworthy is the lack of a clearly stated “Comments posting policy” like the one you have for “Advertising”….

    For a blog such as Galus to not post such a policy or disclaimer this is like driving your car with no insurance….Can only lead to problems down the track…
    Reason being that unlike American blogs we are not covered by freedom of speech here in Aus…

    Also worth noting is that in the event of a defamation case the “behavior” of the blog is taken into account….

    Editor: Remainder of the post deleted. You have been warned not to discuss moderation policy in thread. Further violations will result in suspension of your account.

  • Geoffrey says:

    Steven

    [content removed]Is this to blame both the victims of sexual abuse and their families for the crimes committed against them?

    Thanks for clarifying precisely who you are and what you stand for. Well done. Just saying…

  • Joe in Australia says:

    I deplore this attempt at prior censorship, but I should point out that Mr Waks will not be satisfied with you deleting “comments of a personal or insulting nature”; he demands that they never appear at all. You would have to enable prior moderation, so that comments only appear after you authorise them. I should also say that you would be very unwise to accept any legal advice from your commentators.

  • Galus Australis says:

    Joe, we did not call for legal advice from the comments section. We put out a general call for legal and other support in this matter. This has been forthcoming in the offline world.

  • Joe in Australia says:

    I didn’t mean to imply otherwise, and I’m very glad to hear that you’re getting legal advice.

  • Brad says:

    Geoffrey
    What rubbish. No one has ever suggested kids from dysfunctional or disadvantaged homes are to blame in any way whatever for being victims of sexual abuse. Statistically though they are more vulnerable hence they are targeted by pedophiles who antennae pick up their emotional state, apparently with ease. I don’t know how they do it, but those are the facts on the ground. For you to suggest anyone on this blog has ever implied kids from backgrounds as described above in some way “asked to be abused” or “deserved to be abused” is outrageous. This business is a hot topic in shule/s and not once has anyone suggested even remotely what you have, although everyone at the same time agrees pedophiles know how to pick soft targets. I certainly didn’t read your vile conclusionthat into Stevens post.

  • Geoffrey says:

    Brad

    I can see now how this works on posts about this issue. Someone writes something, the next person projects their own views onto it and that provokes another round of inevitable abuse (“insane” “troll” etc). At the end it’s just a street fight. Brad, I do not think, as you write, that any reasonable Jewish person would ever believe that child sexual abuse victims in some way “asked to be abused” or “deserved to be abused”. I apologise to anyone who took it that way, it’s not what I intended. My point about Steven’s posts is that 1. he throws out innuendo without specific allegations and 2. I don’t know what he’s referring to when he writes about “children with certain issues” – what I posted in response was a question with a question mark. And frankly, Brad, I don’t understand your post either. What has “Statistically though they are more vulnerable hence they are targeted by pedophiles” got to do with allegedly defamatory comments about Mr. Waks or his family, which was the subject of the original article by Ms Fein? Anyway, as I said, it’s clear to me now how these posts can degenerate into defamation that can be truly hurtful to some readers – both those the subject of unsubstantiated allegations or innuendo and victims of abuse. We’re playing with fire here, we have no idea how they will react to comments or what affect it has on them or those who love them. This was the 1st time I have commented on this site, and began with observations about defamation and Ms Fein’s article, and then it became about those who took it in another direction and my stupid need to respond. I’m going to leave it here, but I think it would be far better for all involved if this (as you describe it) “hot” topic was not ventilated in commentary that tends to abuse, innuendo and wholly unsubstantiated allegations. There are real people with real families and real problems who may suffer for this narcissism.

  • Sunshine says:

    Perfectly put Geoffrey.

    The rate of suicide amongst sexually abused children is something like twenty times higher than the normal population.

    The abuse they are further subject to by their community who support their abusers and enable them to continue just worsens the situation.

    People like Brad and Dina, naively and stupidly continue this path and take that responsibility with them

  • Waks'&Wanes says:

    Editor: Do not write personal attacks against the Wakses. Failure to comply will result in suspension of your account.

  • Dina says:

    Sunshine you are trying to manipulate readers into thinking that if you are not a friend of Manny, then you are automatically an enemy of the issue of CSA. This is untrue.
    There are many people who advocate for CSA, and the protection of children, who believe in the cause and work tirelessly to further that cause, but at the same time they simply disagree with Manny Waks’ [content removed – handling] of the situation and of his methods. [content removed]

  • Sunshine says:

    If in fact you believe what you write Dina please denounce the people who covered up the abuse and agree that they should not be allowed to continue their jobs around children.

    But you will stay “standards are different today”

    Or “it’s not the same thing”

    Or “the victim has a psychiatrist”

    You won’t ever do that because either you are scared or you agree there is nothing wrong with cover ups.

    Either way I’m
    Hoping you don’t work with children

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