Michigan

U-M student president files suit against former assistant AG for harassment

Andrew Shirvell (left), with a defaced image of Chris Amrstong posted on Shirvell's blog. WXYZ-TV

A University of Michigan student has filed a lawsuit against the state’s former Assistant Attorney General, alleging the official stalked and defamed him for months.

WXYZ-TV

Andrew Shirvell (left), with a defaced image of Chris Amrstong posted on Shirvell's blog.

Chris Armstrong, 21, the first openly gay student body president at U-M, filed the suit against Andrew Shirvell in Washtenaw County Circuit Court, seeking more than $25,000 in damages.

The civil action is in response to Shirvell’s “months-long personal campaign of lies and distortion,” said Deborah Gordon, Armstrong’s attorney.

The suit claims Shirvell “developed a bizarre personal obsession” with Armstrong in early 2010 after claiming the student was a radical homosexual activist.

Shirvell created a Facebook group under the name of “U of M Alumni and Others Against Chris Armstrong and his Radical MSA (Michigan Student Assembly) Agenda.”

The page was later deactivated by Facebook, but a blog, titled “Chris Armstrong Watch” was created and began spreading false and defamatory information, the suit said.

Threats by Shirvell included statements such as “you’re going down fruity-pebbles” and “I remember the good old days when ‘guys’ like this would get their asses kicked at school,” the suit says.

Shirvell used the blog to continuously attack and harass Armstrong, calling him a “racist, elitist and liar,” and “Satan’s representative on the student assembly.”

On Sept. 28, Shirvell told CNN’s Anderson Cooper, “I’m a Christian citizen exercising my First Amendment rights. I have no problem with the fact that Chris is a homosexual. I have a problem with the fact that he’s advancing a radical homosexual agenda.”

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Among Armstrong’s radical, homosexual agenda: he supported gender-neutral housing at the university for transgender students who haven’t had sexual reassignment surgery.

In November 2010, Shirvell was fired for “abusing” the powers of his office.

At the time of his firing, Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox said, via a press release, that Shirvell was guilty of conduct unbecoming of a state law enforcement official and utilizing state resources to persecute and harass Armstrong.

The state bar’s Attorney Grievance Commission is currently investigating Shirvell’s actions because Armstrong has also filed an ethics complaint seeking his disbarment.

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