Two social media personalities from the United States have filed a lawsuit against a Courtenay man for what they claim is years of ongoing harassment online.
Plaintiffs Kaitlyn Brown and Sunni Son filed the civil claim against Courtenay resident William Robert Girdlestone on Feb. 11. Brown and Son are professional streamers on Twitch, a social media platform popular with gamers.
None of these accusations have been tested in court. The sequence of events detailed in the lawsuit are as follows:
Since at least 2017, Girdlestone has allegedly been engaged in a “deliberate and malicious campaign of defamation, harassment, and threats” against Brown and since at least November 2020 against Son.
Son and Brown say the threats included murder, a shooting and other measures against them and their families, such as “swatting” the women – which is when someone reports false information to police services in order to have SWAT teams dispatched to their homes.
Both Twitch users repeatedly blocked Girdlestone from their social media channels and reported his conduct to the various platform conduct authorities, but say he continues to reappear under new accounts.
Girdlestone was contacted on Dec. 18 by Son and Brown’s counsel, demanding that he cease and desist harassing them and publishing defamatory statements about them.
The document states that not only has he refused to comply, but he has escalated his campaign of harassment and defamation against the plaintiffs.
In an interview with Black Press prior to filing the claim, Brown said Girdlestone originally reached out to her in a Twitch chat room.
She said he gained access to her personal information by making a donation to her Twitch account, then immediately reversing the charges.
“In hindsight, I believe his purpose of that was just to gather my email,” she said. “Once he got that email, he knew what emails I have linked to my social accounts.”
Brown said the situation escalated quickly from that point.
“I called him out on it. I said I have a strict policy that says… you are donating for the purpose of entertainment only, and you are not receiving anything in return. And it was like a light switch flipped and he went off the rails.
“That was about five years ago. Ever since, (rarely has) a single day gone by when he has not bothered me. Maybe a few days, at max.”
Brown went to her local police station across the border, and eventually reached out to the RCMP.
In the meantime, she claims the correspondence with Girdlestone became threatening in nature.
“It got to death threats, him saying ‘I’m going to send anthrax in the mail to you; I’m going to devise a bomb and send it to you; I’m going to call the airline that you’re flying out of and tell them you have a bomb’ – which he claims he did. Once it got to that point, I just kept calling the RCMP and telling them they have to do something about it.”
Brown posted a YouTube video in November of 2020, titled “i’ve (sic) been stalked and harassed for 5 years,” describing her ongoing ordeal.
In the video, Brown takes aim at Comox Valley RCMP for being “absolutely incompetent” after making “about 30 phone calls to the Canadian police in Courtenay.”
“Ultimately, the explanation that all the police have given me is that it’s online and it’s not real, and (I) should just get off the internet and find another job. They’re not real threats; he’s not actually going to come and kill me. There’s nothing they can do because it’s across borders,” Brown said.
Comox Valley RCMP spokesperson, Const. Monika Terragni, said the local detachment is taking the allegations seriously.
“The Comox Valley RCMP Major Crime Unit is currently investigating these allegations of online threats and harassment – every investigation is unique in the challenges it presents,” she said in an email to Black Press. “The time required to complete an investigation is based on many factors, including; the nature and complexity of the allegations, the number of individuals involved, legal authorizations required to obtain evidence (search warrants), the number of witnesses that need to be interviewed as well as their availability and location. I can assure you that this is a very active investigation that has been moving forward since it was initiated.”
Efforts to contact Girdlestone, who has not filed a response in civil court as of Feb. 17, have been unsuccessful.
Brown and Son are seeking a restraining order, as well as compensation.
Girdlestone has 21 days to respond to the civil claim.