Tomorrow, June 16, will mark one year since Danielle Kurin, an archaeology assistant professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, sued me for defamation for my reporting about her misconduct. She is seeking at least $18 million in damages, in addition to an undetermined amount in punitive damages, and an order from the Court directing me to delete my reporting about her and issue retractions.
As I have stated repeatedly throughout this year, I stand by all my reporting about Kurin and her ex-husband Enmanuel Gomez Choque. Indeed, via discovery in the lawsuit and continued reporting about Kurin and her misconduct and abuses, I have uncovered voluminous additional evidence to back up that reporting, in addition to new confirmation of my original posts.
Kurin's response to the vigorous defense my attorneys and I have mounted against the lawsuit has consisted of innumerable false statements in addition to those listed in the original Complaint, which was filed in federal court in the Southern District of New York, White Plains branch. Most recently, Kurin has sought to misrepresent her apparent continuing relationship with her now ex-husband Gomez, with whom she claims to have dissociated herself.
Most importantly, Kurin, whose sole purpose for launching this lawsuit is to silence me and the survivors of, and witnesses to, her abuse behavior, has engaged in a concerted campaign of harassment of all those who have sought to bring her misconduct to public light. Part of that campaign consists of going back on her original promise not to seek the identities of my sources (see now deleted Tweet from her attorney above.) Instead, Kurin, through discovery in the case, has sought not only the identities of all of my sources, but also the identities of those who have commented anonymously on my continuing blog posts about the results of my reporting.
In addition, at the end of May, just after a court-ordered mediation in the case broke down and failed to produce a settlement of the lawsuit, Kurin employed a "sock puppet" Twitter account to launch a vicious attack on me and one of my key sources, a former student of hers and an early victim of her bullying and abuse. The account employs images of my two cats, Camille and Thomas, and until it was locked down after she became aware that we were monitoring the Tweets, Kurin Tweeted nearly 150 times. The Tweets, in my personal view, are disturbing, perhaps because Kurin has come to realize that her lawsuit against me is likely to end in defeat.
Today, my legal team has filed a Letter Motion with the federal judge in the case, asking for a protective order to stop Kurin's harassment and intimidation of those involved in the case, as well as to protect my First Amendment right to publish the findings of my reporting. The letter includes descriptions of Kurin's harassment of witnesses, as well as descriptions of the very disturbing Tweets, which include multiple images of my still-in-print archaeology book, "The Goddess and the Bull," photographed in dumpsters and amongst cat excrement. I have included some samples here and at the bottom of this post.
As my legal team and I continue to vigorously defend this case, I hope readers will follow events as well as help with the legal defense fund. By doing this, you will be supporting freedom of the press and the rights of survivors to tell their stories free of retaliation and further abuse. You can donate at this GoFundMe link. Thank you.
|(Kurin superimposed my archaeology book about Neolithic Catalhoyuk in Turkey over photos of a cat litter box. Many of the Tweets are scatological in nature)|
|(Here Kurin refers to the breakdown in court-ordered mediation and expresses confidence that she will prevail in the defamation suit)|
The Letter Motion to the Court can be found at this link.
|(In a number of Tweets, Kurin, who is Jewish as am I, tries to associate me with Nazis and Hitler)|
|(In this and the previous Tweet, Kurin uses scatological images to refer to me)|
In addition to all this, Kurin has made comments referring my death as something she looks forward to. From the Letter Motion:
Using an account name “@Camilleoncroton,” a reference to Mr. Balter’s cat named Camille, Dr. Kurin posted nearly 150 messages that contained vulgar, rude, threatening, and entirely false statements about Mr. Balter. For example, she captioned a screenshot of one of Mr. Balter’s Tweets, “you will soon die and I will feast on your face.” She also posted a picture of a urinal with the caption, “[Michael Balter’s] Tombstone itself is coming along nicely as u can see. It serves a dual purpose as a urinal” and the comment, “Makes it more convenient to piss on his grave!”
I am not a psychologist, and so I cannot offer any professional opinion on what this all means in psychological terms. But these Tweets are unsettling and make it clear that Kurin is being enabled by those who are helping her pursue this frivolous, baseless lawsuit.
Update: Judge has given Kurin and her legal team a week to respond to our Letter Motion:
ORDER deferring ruling on  Letter Motion for Conference: By 6/22/21, plaintiff shall file a letter-response to defendant's letter-motion. (HEREBY ORDERED by Judge Vincent L. Briccetti)(Text Only Order) (pp)
Update June 17, 2021: Some additional screenshots of Kurin's sock puppet Tweets.