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Monday, May 28, 2012

Sheriff's Office Second-in-Command Files Defamation Lawsuit

Sheriff's Office second-in-command files defamation lawsuit 
The Palm Beach Post by Jane Musgrave  -  May 23, 2012

The second-in-command at the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office has filed a defamation lawsuit against a former deputy who operates a web site that allows people to anonymously criticize the agency. In the lawsuit filed in Palm Beach County Circuit Court, Chief Deputy Michael Gauger accuses John Dougan of engaging in a "shocking anonymous campaign of character assassination." The web site, according to the lawsuit, has featured photos of him superimposed on that of a uniformed Nazi officer, has suggested he is engaged in homosexual, racist and criminal activity and claims he is part of a "culture of corruption." Gauger is seeking more than $15,000 in damages and also pursuing punitive damages, said the suit filed by attorney Jack Scarola. Dougan scoffed at the lawsuit. "I think it's hilarious," said Dougan, who left the department in 2009. "The First Amendment people are going to have a field day with it." Gauger, he said, is a public figure and therefore fair game for criticism. However, even public figures can collect damages if they can prove statements were published with actual malice or reckless disregard for the truth. Dougan also claims he didn't publish the doctored photos or comments about Gauger. Those who use his web site do. Originally known as, the web site has recently been renamed

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