New Jersey Vice Principal Involved in Transphobic Rant Suing for Defamation
A New Jersey school vice principal, involved in an incident in Galloway Twp. where his wife appeared to verbally attack the transgender community, has filed a civil lawsuit citing defamation.
It was back in April when Michael Smurro and his wife Lisa were captured on video outside of Fred & Ethel's Lantern Light in Smithville causing a commotion. Lisa Smurro was yelling about a transgender individual she allegedly encountered in the restaurant's rest room.
Shortly before the couple departs the scene, Michael Smurro is shown chucking his beer at outdoor diners.
While the whole ordeal was taking place, The Smurros got wind that they were being caught on camera and approached the photographer. A woman sitting at one of the outside tables can be heard saying to the couple, “Please take your hate elsewhere.” That's when Michael Smurro then tossed the beer left in the cup he was holding at the woman and her dining companions saying, “Here you go, pal. There you go.”
The video quickly circulated on social media, and Michael Smurro was placed on leave without from his position at Neptune Middle School. He hasn't returned to his role as vice principal since.
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Now, Michael Smurro is reportedly countersuing Carolyn DiPietro, Christopher Benino, and Robert and Debra Harris for of defamation and invasion of privacy. The reason for the lawsuit? It was his wife Lisa that made transphobic statements, not him, so his reputation shouldn't suffer for her actions.
In court documents found on NBCNewYork.com, Michael Smurro's attorney Alexander Schachtel writes that his client, “never uttered a word to the plaintiffs or anyone that disparaged transgendered individuals, or in fact any individuals. Plaintiffs repeatedly alleged, stated, or implied that (Michael Smurro) had made a transphobic speech or rant, or had leveled bigoted comments towards themselves, when (he) had never actually stated or uttered any such thing.”
The lawsuit also claims Smurro's career and reputation have been damaged, “perhaps irreparably". In the days following the incident, the school where Smurro is an educator reportedly received dozens of voicemails from people wanting the vice principal to be held accountable for his actions.
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According to NBC New York, the state of New Jersey law prohibits discrimination based on gender identify and permits people to use public restrooms that correspond to their gender identity.
There were many choices Michael Smurro had that day. He could have tried to calm his wife down. He could have asked her to stop ranting. He could have excused himself. He could have NOT thrown a beer at someone. Could have, but didn't.
To be continued...
SOURCES: NBC10; NBCNewYork.com
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