Man ordered to pay $40,000 to ex for 'wicked' website
Published Tuesday, November 16, 2010 7:37PM PST
A B.C. woman has been awarded more than $40,000 in damages for defamation after her former partner started a website calling her "mean," "sneaky" and "very Dutch" while the two were locked in an ugly child custody battle.
Abbotsford resident Wendy Lee Neufeld had a daughter with Dr. Patrick Michael Nesbitt in 2003, but the relationship fell apart and they began fighting for custody of the little girl three years later. Neufeld was awarded primary custody and Nesbitt was only allowed supervised visits.
But Nesbitt was apparently unhappy with the arrangement, and began making the family's private issues public, with emails to a bank in Calgary, the B.C. Ministry of Children and Families, the girl's doctor and a local Rotary Club, as well as a YouTube video, a Facebook page and a webpage called "Wicked Wendy Neufeld."
Neufeld sued Nesbitt for defamation in B.C. Supreme Court, where she was awarded $40,000 plus special costs on Monday.
On his website, Nesbitt wrote that Neufeld had a relationship with a married gardener and was "involved with an Egyptian male prostitute (until he got deported)."
He also said that she was "not good at long-term relationships" except for with "a girlfriend who is a pedophile."
The site has been mostly dismantled, but still contains a 2007 post claiming that Neufeld's mother is nicknamed Martini, "because of her fondness for alcoholic beverages."
The purported author of the site is a single mother nicknamed Spin Chic, who writes that her friend is in a child custody battle, "with Weird Wicked Wendy trying to keep him from seeing his...daughter."
In fact, Nesbitt has denied creating the site, and told the court that he was "horrified" to learn of its existence.
But Justice R. Crawford wrote in his decision against Nesbitt that the writing style left no doubt he had created the site.
"I do not accept his denial. Nor do I accept any stated concern of his for Ms. Neufeld. It was plainly a mean and malicious publication," Crawford said.
Nesbitt also started a Facebook page called the "Wendy Neufeld Support Group," saying that Neufeld had attempted suicide on multiple occasions and repeating the allegations about her Egyptian prostitute boyfriend.
"Sarcasm is evident throughout," the judge said. "That Ms. Neufeld did not want or need a ‘support group' is evident. That Dr. Nesbitt would dress his vitriol in such shabby clothing shows again a complete lack of social awareness."
In emails to the Rotary Club, Nesbitt wrote that his daughter's godmother was using pictures of the little girl in a "pedophile-friendly" online dating profile to "lure" men. He also wrote the Neufeld was a "confabulator" who had trouble telling fiction from fact.
In his decision, the judge wrote that Nesbitt had publicized private information in a way that clearly defamed Neufeld.
"The reality is that Dr. Nesbitt has taken his battle with Ms. Neufeld over custody and access far outside the ordinary confines of the family court litigation," Crawford said.
"Even worse, his lack of appreciation for the proper boundaries of communication of his opinions has spread to besmirch persons that are friends of Ms. Neufeld."
The judge also called Nesbitt's conduct "reprehensible" and said that his aim was to "humiliate Ms. Neufeld and force her to acknowledge him."
Nesbitt is trained as a family physician, but is currently not practicing, according to court documents. He has been disciplined and temporarily suspended three times by the B.C. College of Physicians and Surgeons -- twice for sexual misconduct with adult female patients and once for unprofessional behaviour.