Alec Baldwin sued for ‘defaming’ sister of slain US Marine by branding her an ‘insurrectionist’

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Alec Baldwin at the Emmy Awards in 2017 (Mike Blake/Reuters)
Alec Baldwin at the Emmy Awards in 2017 (Mike Blake/Reuters)

The family of a US Marine killed during the American retreat from Afghanistan has sued Alec Baldwin for defaming the soldier’s sister by calling her an "insurrectionist".

Roice McCollum, 22, whose brother Rylee was killed by a suicide bomb in Kabul on 26 August last year, filed a lawsuit in Wyoming on Monday along with other members of his family demanding $25m (£18.3m) in damages from the Hollywood star.

The suit alleges that Mr Baldwin had earlier sent the family a $5,000 cheque as "a tribute to a fallen soldier", but that on 3 January he became "triggered" by a photo posted by Ms McCollum suggesting she had attended the pro-Trump protest at the US Capitol last January.

After accusing Ms McCollum of being "a January 6th rioter" in private messages, Mr Baldwin allegedly blasted her as an "insurrectionist" to his 2.4m Instagram followers, prompting a torrent of abuse and death threats.

According to the suit, Ms McCollum did attend the protest but neither took part in nor condoned the rioting that followed, and was "cleared of any wrongdoing" after being interviewed by the FBI.

A screenshot of Mr Baldwin’s alleged Instagram messages to Roice McCollum, included in the lawsuit (McCollumn family via US District Court for Wyoming)
A screenshot of Mr Baldwin’s alleged Instagram messages to Roice McCollum, included in the lawsuit (McCollumn family via US District Court for Wyoming)

"Instead of being able to focus on grieving L Cpl McCollum’s death and raising his newborn daughter, plaintiffs and their family are now fearful for their lives," the lawsuit alleges.

"Plaintiffs have suffered from headaches, nausea, inability to sleep, severe anxiety, severe mental distress, fear for their lives and the life of [the child], and continue to suffer as a result of Baldwin’s conduct.

"The suit concludes that Mr Baldwin intended to provoke such harassment, citing a message he allegedly sent to Roice on 3 January: "I reposted your photo. Good luck."

Mr Baldwin’s Instagram account and his agent did not immediately respond to a request for comment. He has not yet responded to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit comes after Mr Baldwin, an actor and comedian known for his roles in Glengarry Glen Ross and 30 Rock, surrendered his mobile phone to New Mexico police investigating his role in the fatal shooting of a cinematographer on the set of his new film Rust.

Mr Baldwin has said he did not know the prop revolver he was holding contained a live round when it went off, while Rust’s armourer has claimed he is partly responsible for the death in a lawsuit against the film’s gun and ammunition supplier.

Lance Cpl McCollum was one of 13 US service members killed by a bomb blast in Kabul while checking the documents of refugees hoping to escape the rapidly advancing Taliban last August.

A screenshot from the lawsuit of Alec Baldwin’s alleged public post (Alec Baldwin via US District Court for Wyoming)
A screenshot from the lawsuit of Alec Baldwin’s alleged public post (Alec Baldwin via US District Court for Wyoming)

The lawsuit says that his family "share conservative values as their core beliefs" and make much of Mr Baldwin’s left-wing politics, describing him as "a very outspoken liberal Democrat who routinely voices his despisal of the Republican Party and President Trump".

It describes Ms McCollum as "a politically conscious 22-year-old" who went to Washington DC last January to "exercise her First Amendment rights...nothing more" and acted lawfully. It adds that neither L Cpl McCollum's other sister Cheyenne nor his widow Jiennah, who are also plaintiffs, were in DC that day.

A screenshot included in the lawsuit show a private message to Ms McCollum telling her: "Get raped and die, you worthless c***. Your brother got what he deserved." Another screenshot appears to show that user is followed by Mr Baldwin.

Others left comments tagging Ms McCollum such as "were they [your family] all insurrectionists?", "you're going to jail", and "your brother fought for oil. Hope this helps."

The lawsuit claims that Mr Baldwin fuelled the harassment by responding to comments under his post, at one point saying that Ms McCollum "participated in the insurrection".

The lawsuit says: "Baldwin is keenly aware of the unique platform his fame affords him and actively uses it communicate to millions of people to further his beliefs and interests. Plaintiffs allege that Baldwin's foregoing actions were done with the full intent of causing irreparable harm to each of the plaintiffs.

"Alternatively, Baldwin's conduct was negligent and reckless as he should have known that making the allegations he did against plaintiffs to his millions of followers would cause plaintiffs harm."

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