Man misidentified as Charlottesville driver sues far-right websites for defamation
© Getty Images

A group of far-right websites has been hit with a lawsuit for misidentifying a man as the driver of the car that plowed into a group of counterprotesters at the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., last summer.

GotNews, FreedomDaily, the owner of Gateway Pundit and 19 other individuals are named in the lawsuit, which was filed in a federal court Wednesday.

Joel Vangheluwe, a Michigan resident, and his father, Jerome Vangheluwe, filed the suit, seeking damages for defamation, emotional distress, and invasion of privacy. 

ADVERTISEMENT

“Defendants used the Vangheluwes as political pawns, shifting the blame from alt-right extremists to an innocent 20-year-old boy who never owned or drove the car in question,” the suit alleges.

Joel Vangheluwe was falsely identified as the driver of the car that killed one counterprotester, and claimed in the suit that the pair were “falsely accused of assault, terrorism, conspiracies, murder, and racially charged violence.”

The family was forced into hiding in August after the far-right websites and individuals named in the suit allegedly spread Vangheluwe’s name on social media.

James Alex Fields, a 20-year-old man from Ohio, was indicted on 10 counts, including first degree murder, for the incident.

According to the lawsuit, Jerome Vangheluwe at one point owned the vehicle used in the attack, but had legally sold it years before, and that the car passed through several owners before Fields used it in the attack.

“The torrent of accusations against the Vangheluwes accomplished the over-arching goal of the alt-right media to distract their readers into believing the attack was made by someone other than a member of the alt-right movement,” the suit claims.

Also named in the suit is Paul Nehlen, a Wisconsin GOP candidate who was recently banned from Twitter for making racially charged jokes about actress Meghan Markle, who is engaged to the United Kingdom’s Prince Harry.