A judge has ruled The Citadel will not be held liable after a male student allegedly posted the name and phone number of a teenager on a pornographic website three years ago.
Randy Upton, the father of then 17-year-old Kelsey Upton, who lives in Covington, Ga., filed the suit in 2011.
Randy Upton claimed The Citadel did not properly monitor and filter cadets' Internet and computer use, leading to the alleged post by former cadet Andrew Steven Smith.
Circuit Judge Markley Dennis ruled in favor of The Citadel, according to an order filed in January, which recently came to light following a filing Monday of an amended order.
Dennis' order stated "The Citadel did not create, author or publish any comments about the plaintiff (Upton). It is, therefore immune from civil liability relating to the content that defendant Smith allegedly posted."
Randy Upton, a retired Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent, referred questions to his attorney, who could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
In a deposition taken in August, the father condemned The Citadel for not doing more to prevent the incident.
"I think The Citadel created a pervert when they took and allowed him access to a computer with no controls in place," he stated to attorneys.
Upton's attorney had argued they needed more time to collect evidence before the judge made a decision on the case, according to the order.
Upton was trying to show that The Citadel, "through a culture of misogyny" encouraged Smith to post Kelsey Upton's name and phone number on the website, the order stated.
Dennis stated in his order it wouldn't have made a difference under the law.
"Even if the plaintiff (Upton) could discover such evidence, it would not create a genuine issue of material fact as to The Citadel's liability to her," the judge's order stated.
The suit also was filed against Smith, but the status of his case remains unclear.
The case remains open, according to Charleston County Clerk of Court officials.
Smith's attorney, Todd Kincannon, however, said the court of records shows the case is no longer pending. He declined to comment further on the case.
Smith was dismissed from The Citadel, according to the judge's order; however, he graduated from the military college in May, according to school spokeswoman Kim Keelor.
Keelor said they cannot comment on whether any disciplinary actions were taken against Smith due to federal education privacy laws.
After the Georgia Bureau of Investigation looked into the incident, the agency concluded no criminal wrongdoing had occurred.
Kelsey Upton, 20, is currently attending college in Georgia, according to the school's online directory.
In an August deposition, Kelsey Upton described how she found out her phone number and name had been posted on the website.
She said she received a text message in November 2010 from a man who said he'd seen a naked photo of a woman with her name and phone number on the site, according to the deposition.
She initially thought it was a joke until she saw the post online, according to the deposition.
"I physically got sick, seeing my name and my phone number underneath it and claiming to be me," she said during the deposition.
Upton's father contacted the prosecutors in Georgia, who had the Georgia Bureau of Investigation look into the incident, according to his deposition.
Through his own investigation, Randy Upton discovered the source of the post was Smith, who his daughter had been acquainted with, he said during his deposition.
"I was completely shocked because we had never had any harsh words between us," Kelsey Upton said.
Kelsey Upton knew Smith because her friend had dated him and they would all see each other in Covington, Ga., before he enrolled at The Citadel, she stated to attorneys.
Kelsey Upton has been vocal about the incident, appearing on a national network's morning news show and speaking at an antibullying summit in Washington, D.C.
She said she has spoken publicly about her experience because she doesn't want this to happen again, according to her deposition.
"I wanted to stand up and let people know that it was OK, that, you know, you did nothing wrong," she said. "That it's OK to stand up and fight for it because it's not right."
Reach Natalie Caula Hauff at 937-5594 or Twitter.com/ncaula.
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