|Danielle Kurin and Enmanuel Gomez at their religious wedding in Peru, Sept 20, 2015|
From the very beginning of the Kurin v. Balter defamation case, the issue of Danielle Kurin's relationship with her former husband, Enmanuel Gomez, has been a major bone of contention. This report is based on follow-up reporting I carried out earlier this year, talking with sources with direct knowledge of the facts.
Kurin has shown a great sensitivity about her relationship with Gomez, whom she married in Santa Barbara in early 2016--months after she learned that a complaint had been filed against Gomez alleging sexual harassment at her 2015 field school in Peru, as documented in the Title IX report issued by the University of California, Santa Barbara. She divorced Gomez with a decree effective December 1, 2019, according to California court records. In her Amended Complaint against me, filed in August 2020, Kurin argues that she was only "briefly" married to Gomez (for three years), and that she separated from him in August 2018 after troubling incidents that took place at her IFR field school the previous month. Kurin also tackled the issue of her relationship with Gomez in her response to a blog post I published in July 2020, where I cited witnesses to the effect that she was still closely associated with Gomez despite her contentions in the Amended Complaint that she had had very little contact with him since they separated--and that contact was, she maintained, only for purposes of processing the divorce.
However, I have learned from sources with direct knowledge that Kurin and Gomez had married earlier, on September 20, 2015, in a religious ceremony in the city of Andahuaylas, where the Gomez family is largely based. According to the sources, the wedding was held at 3 PM that day at the Puma de Piedra restaurant in Andahuaylas, one of the city's fanciest restaurants. The ceremony was officiated by a curate of a local Catholic parish. The attendees at what is described as a very festive occasion included Gomez's family and friends, among others.
This raises the question of whether Kurin, in the eyes of the Peruvian Catholic Church, is still married to Gomez, despite her U.S. divorce from him.
However, one thing seems clear: Kurin is still considered part of the Gomez family. In a Facebook celebration of the birthday of Gomez's father, Diogenes Gomez Orihuela, in March of this year, Kurin (referred to as "Daniela," as the family calls her) is given a place of honor among the children of Gomez's parents. This is indicated in the Facebook posts below.
The Gomez family is known to be very fond of Kurin, and she is also popular in Andahuaylas, in part because she has learned to speak the local language, Quechua. It would appear that in the eyes of her Peruvian in-laws, at least, Kurin is still married to Enmanuel Gomez.
Kurin v. Balter is a "SLAPP" suit, and should be dismissed as an attack on freedom of the press.
My legal team and I continue to argue that this lawsuit is what is known as a "Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation" (SLAPP), meaning that the purpose of the litigation is to silence me and my reporting as well as the survivors and witnesses who have given evidence against Kurin. We have argued that under New York's new and improved anti-SLAPP law, which some federal and state judges have already applied retroactively, that the case should be dismissed. Although the judge has not yet allowed us to make such an early motion for summary judgment in the case, we do believe that the law and judicial precedent supports our position.
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Although my attorneys from BakerHostetler are representing me pro bono--and their hard work on behalf of freedom of the press and survivors is much appreciated--I must pay for the basic expenses, such as court reporters, subpoena service, transcription services, and a host of other things. You can help out by donating, as generously as possible, to the GoFundMe legal defense fund. And, if you have already given, or if you are not able to, please spread the word on social media and all your platforms.
Update June 3: Danielle Kurin was asked through her attorney if she would comment on the blog post above. She declined to do so.
Update June 11: This Proof of Marriage between Danielle Kurin and Enmanuel Gomez on September 20, 2015, in Andahuaylas, Peru, was attested to by the parish of San Pedro de Andahuaylas, Roman Catholic Diocese of Abancay, where the marriage was recorded.
Update June 30, 2021: Kurin says she is not legally married to Gomez.
As I indicated above, I had invited Danielle Kurin to comment on this blog post but she declined. However, on Monday, Kurin's counsel provided us with documents--including a Letter of Attestation from the law firm of Monteblanco & Associates, with offices in the Peruvian capital of Lima and elsewhere in the world--supporting their contention that there was never a "legal marriage" between Kurin and Gomez. Kurin's counsel demanded that I retract the above blog post, and threatened that if I ever again wrote that she was still married to Gomez they would file a new defamation suit against me. (Earlier, Kurin had insisted, falsely, that the ceremony in Peru was a "rehearsal dinner" and not a wedding at all.)
It is correct that for a marriage in Peru to be "legal," a civil ceremony must be performed in addition (and usually before) a religious ceremony. However, as should be clear from the original post, I did not claim that the couple had engaged in a civil ceremony, because I did not have any evidence that they did. I simply stated that they had a religious ceremony, and--as proven by the certificate from the diocese--that marriage was recognized by the Catholic Church. And since divorce is rarely allowed in the Catholic Church, and there was no evidence that the parish wedding had ever been annulled, I asked the question whether they were still married in the eyes of the Church (and in the eyes of God, for the devout.)
There is evidence that Kurin took the wedding very seriously at the time. According to a witness who was present at the ceremony, "Dani cried the whole time."
To be clear, Kurin was married to Gomez under U.S. law from February 2016 to December 2019. That is uncontested.