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Georgia family sues over social media posts alleging involvement in Capitol riot

A Georgia family has filed a lawsuit against a grocery store worker for defamation and libel over social media posts that accused them of planning and participating in the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.

The lawsuit, filed by Kathryn, Thelma and William Cagle, alleges that Rayven Goolsby “disparaged and defamed” the family through online harassment. The family members accuse her of damaging their reputations and associating them with criminal conduct, The Washington Post reported.

According to the Post, Kathryn Cagle took to Facebook on Jan. 6 to ask for prayers for herself and her mother, Thelma Cagle, writing, “Yes, Mama and I are in Washington, D.C." 

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“I thought Kate Cagle [was] on the planning committee, I hope she doesn’t plan to make a career out of planning riots,” grocery store worker Goolsby later wrote on Facebook.

In another post directed to Thelma Cagle, Goolsby wrote, “Didn’t you attend the insurrection? I am pretty sure you did.”

The Cagle family is prominent in local Pickens County politics, the Post reported. Kathryn Cagle is a former chairwoman of the Pickens County Georgia Republican Party, according to the Post, while Thelma Cagle has sung the national anthem at various pro-Trump rallies. William Cagle, Kathryn's father and Thelma's husband, recently served a term on the Pickens County Planning Commission.

Goolsby's social media posts reportedly focused on the alleged "central role" Kathryn and Thelma Cagle played in organizing attendees for the Women for America First tour. The conservative women's group was reportedly heavily involved in organizing the "Stop the Steal" rally that took place before the Capitol riot.

Andrew Fleischman, Goolsby's attorney, said the Cagles are using the court system to intimidate his client.

“We shouldn’t be afraid that criticizing an important person in our community could cost us thousands of dollars,” Fleischman told the Post. He argued that the Cagles are people of public interest and that Goolsby's online posts fell into protected categories of speech such as opinion, hyperbole and sarcasm.

David McDonald, an attorney for the Calges, told the newspaper that his clients did not want to turn their complaint into a political issue.

“Our Clients are aggrieved and that is the reason for the suit. It is our Firm and the Cagle’s desire that we can hopefully resolve this in a mutually beneficial and amicable fashion,” McDonald told The Post.