The Pedals the Bear case has now resulted in a defamation lawsuit.
The story of the famous bipedal New Jersey black bear has taken yet another strange turn.
You may recall the outrage when it was reported this internet famous bear was taken in New Jersey’s bear season in October. In all the commotion, several people were accused of being the hunter that shot the popular bruin.
The amount of hatred being thrown in one hunter’s direction was enough that the state of New Jersey had to step in and confirm the accused hunter didn’t actually take the bear. But apparently he wasn’t the only one who felt he was falsely accused.
Now the Associated Press reports another man named John DeFilippo has filed a defamation lawsuit against six different people on social media who identified him on Facebook pages dedicated to the bear as the one who killed Pedals. Now he’s seeking punitive and compensatory damages.
DeFillippo’s lawsuit alleges the people who spread the rumors didn’t just make inappropriate comments. They also allegedly posted photos of his home and spread information about his family and his job in the process.
“The First Amendment protects the freedom of speech, but not all speech,” DeFilippo’s attorney, Wolfgang Robinson told reporters. “There is no such thing as a constitutional right to make false statements about others. The defendants that have been named in this lawsuit falsely stated that my client harvested Pedals the Bear. He did not.”
While it is generally believed someone did kill Pedals, no one can say with any certainty because the bear was not tagged. Photos of an animal with similar-looking foot deformities however seem to indicate someone did tag the bear.
This case is just one of many recent high-profile cases of hunters being targets of online harassment. Some of this trolling behavior has been targeted at high-profile hunters like Eva Shockey. Other times it has come as a result of someone taking a notable animal. An Idaho hunter received some online harassment as a result of shooting an albino deer earlier this year.