Austrian Politician Convicted of Libel for Publicly Accusing Man of Sexual Harassment

In a setback for the global #MeToo movement, a former member of Austria’s parliament was convicted of libel this month against a man she publicly accused of sexually harassing her on Facebook.

In an unprecedented case, a judge at the Regional Court for Criminal Matters in Vienna ruled that Green Party politician Sigrid Maurer libeled the owner of a city craft beer store because she couldn’t prove that he actually posted the harassing messages on his Facebook account.

In March, Maurer, 33, an advocate for women’s rights, received obscene Facebook messages from the account of the owner of the store, where she walks by frequently. One said, “Hello you went to my shop today and looked at my c— as if you wanted to eat it.“

Maurer posted the messages on Facebook and Twitter, including his name and the store’s name. “There was no other way to defend myself,” she said.

Maurer posted the messages after her lawyers said she could not sue for public sexual assault because the messages were private.

Her posts went viral, and the store owner said he subsequently became the target of online and personal verbal assaults, including death threats, and his store received negative reviews.

The man sued Maurer for libel, claiming he didn’t write the harassing messages. All of his customers have access to the computer in his shop, including his Facebook profile, he testified.

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SOURCE: USA Today, Christina Traar