University Drops Libel Suit Against Blogger

Student Will Face School Disciplinary Hearing

Butler University has dropped a libel suit against an anonymous blogger accused of posting defamatory statements about administrators.

The school dropped the suit Monday after Butler junior Jess Zimmerman, 21, was identified as the blogger who was critical of two high-level administrators in posts last year. The blog was later taken down.

University officials said they only filed the suit to determine the blogger's identity, and that Zimmerman will now face school disciplinary hearings.

University officials had said that they strongly support freedom of speech and academic freedom, "but we cannot tolerate the harassment, intimidation and defamation in which the defendant engaged."

Zimmerman is chronicling his experience with the university in another blog, titled I am John Doe.

He wrote on Monday that he believes the lawsuit was dropped because of pressure from his supporters, but that "they still plan to try me on campus, in a manner that I suspect will have a similar chilling effect on free speech and dissent both at Butler and elsewhere."

Zimmerman said he also suspects the disciplinary hearings will be biased.

"(President Bobby Fong) has now sent three memos to the faculty discussing the situation. In each of the memos, the president convicts me. He describes what he thinks I did, says that I did in fact do these things and then says they will be using the campus disciplinary system to punish me," Zimmerman told 6News Wednesday. "I would have hoped that we could have a trial before the verdict, but the president seems to want to convict me first and try me second."

The suit has gained widespread attention on the Web, from bloggers and online media outlets, such as The Huffington Post.