Legal Fallout From Disturbing Allegations Of Cyberbullying Against Erik Karlsson And His Wife

TORONTO — As Melinda Karlsson tweeted her goodbyes to a city and Ottawa Senators fan base reeling over the trading of their team’s captain, her lawyer appeared in a Toronto courtroom and mused that he needed a “tackle box” for the “fishing expedition” being led by lawyers for the woman Karlsson has accused of months of relentless harassment.

It’s a legal saga that began in May, first reported by this newspaper, that made headlines across the hockey world: the wife of a National Hockey League team captain accusing the fiancée of his teammate of a campaign of targeted, anonymous online harassment.

In its wake were a broken locker room and accusations hurled from hockey wife to hockey wife. Now, both players have been traded to other teams, their off-ice dispute having factored into decisions about the Senators’ future, but fallout from the allegations continues to have implications for two women who will never have to attend a wives’ dinner or charity event for the same team again.

In May, Melinda Karlsson, wife of former Senators captain Erik Karlsson, who was traded to the San Jose Sharks on Thursday, swore an application for an order of protection alleging that Monika Caryk, the longtime girlfriend and fiancée of former Senators forward Mike Hoffman, wished her and her unborn child dead, wanted someone to “take out” her husband’s legs to “end his career,” and “posted over 1,000 negative and derogatory statements about me as a professional.”

The protection order application was never served to Caryk or tested in court, and no order was ever made. In fact, it was struck off the list of order applications because it wasn’t served. This newspaper first reported on the allegations in June. Ottawa police began a criminal harassment investigation into the allegations, but to date no criminal charges have been laid against Caryk, who has repeatedly and vehemently denied the allegations.

There are two disturbing narratives, Caryk’s lawyer, Sheila Block, argued Friday.

The first was one in which Melinda Karlsson was not only a grieving mother dealing with the stillbirth of her first child, but was also a victim of brutal online harassment.

The second was one in which Caryk, whose fiancé was traded to the Sharks and immediately dealt again to the Florida Panthers after the allegations became public, was “vilified” and “publicly excoriated” as the culprit behind the harassment.

“Her name has become synonymous with hatefully cyberbullying,” Block told the court.

Caryk maintains her innocence, “but, until she can prove it, she’s branded,” Block said.

However, Ontario Superior Court Justice Anne Mullins reminded Block that “this ball got rolling” long before any information was either sworn to in the peace bond application or reported by this newspaper. On the same day that the Karlssons’ first child was stillborn, Caryk was already being suggestively implicated in improper behaviour. In the days that followed, Caryk was outright accused of cyberbullying by other hockey wives, according to texts and emails filed with the court.

Karlsson’s lawyer, Gil Zvulony, entered no evidence to oppose the application on the record, but said it would be “outrageous” for the court to compel a victim of cyberbullying to turn over evidence about what had happened to her to the woman she believed to be her tormentor.

Anything filed with the court as part of an application for a peace bond is absolutely privileged, meaning it cannot form the basis of any legal proceeding.

It is Caryk’s stated intent to prove to others that she hasn’t done this, Zvulony said. She wants to discredit, challenge, spin or publicize what could result if the order is granted. The remedy for Caryk is to “combat the bad speech with good speech,” Zvulony argued. And, he said, an interview with this newspaper and ongoing reporting on the legal saga that fairly characterizes her denials have done that.

For Caryk, whose legal team said it had no intention of suing Melinda Karlsson for damages, it’s a simple request. On what basis and with what evidence did Melinda Karlsson form the belief that Caryk was harassing her online? Caryk is asking the court to force Karlsson to turn that information over to her in an application for what’s called a “Norwich” order.

Block and Karlsson’s lawyers have both argued in court and in filings, which have been accepted by the judge as fact, that the peace bond application was leaked to this newspaper. It was not. It was first accessed by this newspaper as a public document on record with the court, then accessed by several other media outlets following this newspaper’s reporting. Any remaining documents that could be part of the application, including the presiding justice of peace’s notes or supporting documentation Karlsson may have filed with the court, have been sealed.

Block argued that Caryk had no intention of suing Karlsson because “she’s suffered enough,” but does want to know what evidence — whether someone told Karlsson, whether she inferred it from their relationship, whether she has physical or electronic proof — she has based that belief on, so Caryk can sue those who have incorrectly blamed her or get the court to declare that she’s not involved.

“In the Florida Panthers dressing room, she could show her fellow wives and girlfriends, ‘Look, it wasn’t me,’” Block said.

Mullins said it was a “novel idea” to request a Norwich order to prove someone didn’t do something rather than to prove they did.

Zvulony argued that there was zero evidence of a “framing” before the court and that, if Caryk believed she was defamed by media coverage or by the leaking of a court document, she should sue the newspaper or the Attorney General.

Karlsson should be the last person named in any such order, Zvulony said.

Justice Mullins has reserved her decision. No date has yet been set for when that decision will be delivered.

Syogaretnam@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/shaaminiwhy

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Legal Fallout From Disturbing Allegations Of Cyberbullying Against Erik Karlsson And His Wife

Source:Ottawa Citizen

Legal Fallout From Disturbing Allegations Of Cyberbullying Against Erik Karlsson And His Wife

Legal Fallout From Disturbing Allegations Of Cyberbullying Against Erik Karlsson And His Wife

Source:Daily Mail

Legal Fallout From Disturbing Allegations Of Cyberbullying Against Erik Karlsson And His Wife