Originally emailed 23 April 2004
Utah AT Advocates Fail to Keep Website Down
In a brazen attempt to muzzle their opponents, Attachment (Holding) Therapy advocates in Utah have filed a lawsuit in state court alleging “interference with contractual relationships” by anti-AT activists in the state.
Then a clumsy attempt to deny the First Amendment rights of those anti-AT activists by getting a court-order shutting down their website, www.KidsComeFirst.info (KCF), was set aside by the judge on the case on procedural grounds.
In early April, Hope for the Children (HFC), a “charity” apparently run out of the basement of a holding therapy clinic near Provo, Utah, and its sometime executive director, Laura Whipple Thalin, sued Alan Misbach, LCSW, an official of the state- and federally-funded Children’s Justice Center in Provo, and others who allegedly operate and host the non-commercial website.
HFC and Ms Thalin allege the website defames them by connecting them with the deaths of children from holding therapy and unfairly discloses a past conviction of Ms Thalin’s for harassment of a police officer. The website links to news reports about the regulatory woes of some of HFC’s past executive directors and about the financial support that HFC has given to the clinic in whose basement it has operated. There are also links to other news reports about Ms Thalin’s accusations of sexual harassment against a state legislator who had sponsored anti-holding therapy legislation.
The two plaintiffs also allege in their suit that Mr Misbach was personally responsible for the cancellation last month of a fund-raising dinner concert for HFC by a popular LDS musical composer, Kurt Bestor. News stories linked to by the KCF website report that Mr Bestor and his agents say they cancelled the concert after learning of HFC’s connection with holding therapy and of tickets being sold to the general public for what was supposed to be a private concert.
The plaintiffs initially got a temporary restraining order (TRO) from District Judge Lynn Davis, shutting down the KCF website for about ten days. Mr Misbach requested that the TRO be lifted, complaining that he had been denied due process in not being allowed to argue against it before it was issued, and that in any event it significantly violated his free speech rights under the First Amendment.
In a hearing on Monday, April 19, Judge Davis agreed that the TRO had been improperly issued in the first place and lifted it. He also awarded costs, fees, and damages to Mr Misbach, with the actual amounts to be determined later. A $2,500 bond posted by the plaintiffs for the TRO was impounded.
As of this writing, the plaintiffs have not corrected their procedural deficiencies. It is not certain that they will continue with the lawsuit, given the costly initial setback they received. (See later AT News update.)
Caution: links may have aged since this AT News was first emailed.