The story is almost unbelievable: Gene Cooley lost his fiancee when she was murdered by her ex-husband in 2008. Shortly after the murder, an anonymous person posting on a Blairsville, Georgia community website under multiple screen names accused Cooley of being a pedophile, a drug addict and having a long criminal record with prison time. Cooley was none of those things and had no criminal record. Cooley didn't own a computer and was shocked when his fiancee's family suddenly wanted nothing to do with him. He was fired from his job at a Blairsville hair salon when the salon owner heard about the accusations circulating around the small Georgia community. Suddenly Cooley not only lost his fiancee, but his fiancee's family, his job, his friends and his reputation.
Cooley's lawyer and the community website, Topix.com, were able to track down the poster's IP address, an address unique to each computer, and discover the malicious person's identity. Sybil Denise Ballew barely knew Cooley but decided she didn't like him and started her internet rampage against him using several screen names to act like multiple people. Cooley said he really didn't know this woman at all; he had been a customer occasionally at two places Ballew worked.
This woman thought she could anonymously rip Cooley's life apart, ruin his reputation, and walk away from the carnage she caused. A Union County jury didn't agree. On January 13, 2011, a six-person jury awarded Gene Cooley a $404,000 judgment against Ballew. Cooley's lawyer is investigating any assets Ballew might have to pay the judgment but it's unlikely that Cooley will ever see any of that money. It's more of a moral victory than a financial victory. Cooley's lawyer and the local district attorney are currently drafting a bill to make such libelous action a crime and not merely a civil matter.
Attorney Scott Williamson assists victims of
negligence all over Georgia and north Atlanta including Dunwoody, Alpharetta, Sandy Springs, Roswell, Vinings, Marietta, Smyrna, Johns Creek, Cumming, Dawsonville, Norcross, Duluth, Chamblee, and Tucker.