Former Associate of Jailed Ellis County Observer Publisher Sues Google For Defamation

Joey Dauben's reign as the muckraking king of Ellis County came to an ignominious end last month when he was sentenced to three 10-year sentences for raping a boy, then 14, on a church camping trip in 2007.

It was an ironic end for the 32-year-old, who crusaded against child abuse (and many other things) with an monomaniacal zeal in the pages of the Ellis County Observer, which was part gonzo journalism, part libelous fairytale. It was never easy to tell which was which. The Observer's Patrick Michels profiled him in 2011, when he was in the midst of an unsuccessful bid to become mayor of Palmer. It's a strange and fascinating read.

But, though he is in prison, Duaben's influence continues to be felt. A former associate, John Margetis, is now suing Google to reveal the names of three John Does who posted anonymously to an anti-Dauben website focused primarily on photoshopping Dauben's face into various pictures and GIFs but which serves as an open forum featuring commentary that Margetis claims is defamatory.

To wit: A poster, screenname GingerSnap, calls Margetis a "sub-human species" and writes in a post titled "Was Joey Dauben and John Margetis Gay Lovers?" that he's being investigated by the Secret Service for threatening U.S. Congressmen; another poster, Oreader, claims Margetis has an arson conviction; a third, OllieReader, calls him a "career fraudster and convicted felon" and a "con artist."

Margetis wants those posts taken down, and a Dallas County judge agreed, issuing a temporary restraining order on Tuesday requiring Google and/or the three anonymous posters to remove the allegedly defamatory statements. That hasn't yet happened. A hearing on a permanent injunction has been scheduled for March 7.

As with much surrounding Dauben, his relationship with Margetis is murky. In this video by the Ellis County Observer taken outside of a local GOP meeting in Waxahachie, Margetis is identified as a "local political activist," though he seems also to have been a regular presence on the newspaper's podcasts.

Reports on various anti-Dauben blogs -- there are several -- allege that Margetis took over Ellis County Observer operations after Dauben was ordered by a judge to stop publishing the paper. But that, like the other allegations one finds by Googling both men's names, is hard to substantiate.

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Eric Nicholson
Contact: Eric Nicholson