The following is a statement from BeaverCountian.com founder John Paul concerning false and defamatory statements made about him by Deanna Marie Romigh, administrator of the Facebook discussion group “The News Alerts of Beaver County” which boasts 38,000 followers:
On Friday, Nov. 29, a series of posts to “The News Alerts of Beaver County” Facebook group began causing public alarm in the county. The Monaca and Chippewa police departments subsequently made statements refuting false claims and speculation circulated by the group. As a reporter, I published those statements by law enforcement to provide the public with accurate, fact-verified information from official sources. Those articles appeared late Friday evening and early Saturday morning.
On Sunday morning, Dec. 1, Deanna Marie Romigh published a comment to BeaverCountian.com’s Facebook page and a post to the 38,000 followers of her group, “The News Alerts of Beaver County,” making demonstrably false and extremely defamatory allegations about myself.
She falsely claimed that I had previously been a reporter for the Beaver County Times but was fired for publishing inaccurate articles. She similarly falsely claimed that I had been a reporter for WBVP but was also fired for inaccurate reporting.
In fact, I have never worked for either of those companies and have never been fired from a job in my life.
(I did once produce a daily podcast published on BeaverCountian.com that aired in syndication on WBVP, but I eventually retired the feature after it began to monopolize too much of my day.)
Romigh then alleged I had previously been charged with theft and fraud and warned people to “be careful” of me.
In fact, I have never been charged with any crime in my life with the exception of being issued a summary traffic ticket.
Romigh went on to say that people could “look up his record,” leaving them with the wrong impression that her false and defamatory statements were based on verified facts.
She actually ended her post, “100% #fact.”
I was unable to respond to her false accusations she made about me to her group, as she banned me from it. Others were unable to respond either, as she turned off all commenting to her fictitious nonsense.
I did post a reply to Romigh’s comment on the BeaverCountian.com Facebook page though, informing her that each and every one of her statements were entirely false. Romigh subsequently deleted her comment and post, but did not issue an apology as I had requested.
Instead, she then posted an article from 2011 published by the Beaver County Times to the 38,000 followers of her group. The article detailed the acquittal at trial of then-Sheriff George David, who had been arrested by the Pennsylvania State Police for pulling a gun on me while I was investigating allegations of improprieties made by other public employees. The charges were filed following the issuance of a presentment against him by the Pennsylvania Statewide Investigating Grand Jury.
Romigh’s publication of an 8-year-old article to her group caused confusion, as evidenced by comments from individuals who mistakenly believed the story was about a contemporary matter.
She then deleted that post as well, but not before publishing a comment that I should “leave people alone.”
“I dont go to peoples offices or ask anyone for informations,” Romigh wrote.
No, she certainly does not and that is exactly what is wrong with her and how she administers her group. There is no verification before rumors, gossip, and libel are disseminated to a large audience of people. Her mixing of links to reporting by reputable news organizations with the lies and gossip from random people appear to make it difficult for many of the group’s readership to discern fact from fiction.
To me, her group feels much like H. G. Wells’ War of the Worlds on endless repeat.
Even though she has been informed her allegations against me are false, she has continued to repeat some of her defamatory statements. I have a hard time characterizing Romigh’s actions against me personally as anything other than a retaliatory and malicious attempt to discredit a reporter who had done his job in properly informing the public.
That being said, I am a public figure. I have a platform and a voice to correct the record when Romigh attempts to damage me with her lies.
Most people however are not in such a fortunate position.
Time and again I have witnessed private individuals being placed in an undeserved spotlight. I have also documented multiple instances where individuals who attempted to correct erroneous information were then banned from the group — including emergency first responders.
Random elderly men being forced to endure false innuendos they may be pedophiles, people driving white vans having their photos published and being placed under clouds of suspicion of being kidnappers and human traffickers, law enforcement being made to waste valuable resources because of ridiculous calls apparently caused by the group’s hysteria, the list goes on.
Romigh needs to learn that with voice comes responsibility. Facts matter and misinformation can be extremely dangerous.
Much damage is being done, many guiltless people are being victimized, and I fear the day may soon come when innocent people are harmed in ways far worse than just a tarnishing of their reputations.