CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — The widow and two sisters of a U.S. Marine killed in Afghanistan are suing Alec Baldwin, saying the actor exposed them to a wave of social media hate by claiming on Instagram that a sister was among the “insurgents” for attending former President Donald Trump’s rally in Washington, DC, on January 6 last year.
Sister Roice McCollum, who protested peacefully and legally, was not among those who stormed the federal Capitol that day and, after being interviewed by the FBI, “was never detained, arrested, charged or singled out for any crime,” the lawsuit states. Monday in US District Court in Cheyenne.
The lawsuit comes as Baldwin is immersed in an investigation into the death of a cinematographer and the injuries of a director late last year after a prop gun, held by the actor, went off on a movie set.
Last year Baldwin sent McCollum a check for $5,000 to help the widow of his brother, Marine Corps Corporal Rylee McCollum of Jackson, Wyoming, who was one of 13 soldiers killed in a suicide attack on 26 March. August at the Kabul airport, the complaint states.
On January 3 of this year, legal documents say, the actor privately messaged Roice McCollum on Instagram shortly after she posted a nearly year-old photo of Trump’s rally asking if she was the same woman who had accepted your donation. The suit alleges that McCollum confirmed that she was at the protest and told Baldwin, “protesting is perfectly legal.”
The suit alleges that Baldwin responded that “his activities resulted in the unlawful destruction of government property, the death of an official, and an assault on presidential election certification” and told McCollum that he had republished his photograph for his 2 .4 million followers on Instagram.
“Good luck,” Baldwin wrote, according to the lawsuit.
“Baldwin simply ignored Roice’s denial that he was involved in the riots and his assertion that the FBI did not prove that he engaged in any of the conduct that Baldwin falsely chose to attribute to him through his massive following,” the suit says.
Emails and messages were sent to Baldwin representatives with no response as of Wednesday. FBI authorities in Denver did not immediately return messages sent Wednesday asking if the claims in Roice McCollum’s lawsuit are true. According to federal court records reviewed by The Associated Press, there were no criminal charges against her.
After Baldwin posted Roice McCollum’s photo from the Jan. 6 protest on social media, she received “hundreds and hundreds of hate messages,” including one telling her to “let herself be raped and die” and that her brother “got what he deserved,” according to the lawsuit.
In a message sent from his Instagram account, Baldwin called the post “hateful” and told Roice McCollum, “There are hateful things posted to you that are wrong,” according to screenshots filed in the case.
But the lawsuit alleges that Baldwin did nothing to remedy the situation and that by sharing the photo “he lit the match and started the fire,” resulting in hateful messages and death threats not only to Roice McCollum but to her sister. Cheyenne McCollum, and the widow Jiennah McCollum.
The lawsuit, first reported by the Casper Star-Tribune, alleges invasion of privacy, defamation, negligence and intentional infliction of emotional stress for which it seeks $25 million in damages.
Jiennah McCollum had her late husband’s daughter in September. Online campaigns have raised nearly $1 million for the widow and daughter.
Baldwin on Friday turned his cell phone over to authorities investigating the shooting on the New Mexico set. The prop gun fired a live bullet during a rehearsal, killing cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and injuring director Joel Souza, according to authorities.
Associated Press writer Jake Coyle in New York contributed to this report.