Ruby Freeman, a former Georgia election worker, sat in a federal courtroom Wednesday and told jurors, “Giuliani just screwed me over, you know?”
She was referring to Rudolph W. Giuliani, who was sitting a few feet away from her, as she described how her life had changed since Dec. 3, 2020. That was the date Mr. Giuliani, then personal lawyer to President Donald J. Trump directed his millions of social media followers to watch a video of two poll workers in Fulton County, Georgia, baselessly claiming that they were misleading Trump while counting votes on Election Day.
The workers were Ms. Freeman and her daughter, Shaye Moss.
Freeman, who is black, recounted what followed: a torrent of threats, accusations and racism; messages from people saying she should be hanged for treason or lynched; people who fantasized about hearing the sound of her neck breaking.
They found her in her house. She sent messages to her company email and her social media accounts. They called her phone so much that it failed, she said.
The harassment became so severe that the FBI told Ms. Freeman that she was not safe in the house where she had lived for years. She stayed with a friend of hers until she felt he was putting her at risk after law enforcement officers told her they had arrested someone who had her name on a death list.
Freeman's name had become a rallying cry among the conservative media, embodying a conspiracy theory that Trump supporters embraced as they tried to keep him in office.
“This all started with a tweet,” Freeman said Wednesday, the third day of a trial to determine what compensation she and Moss deserve from Giuliani. Judge Beryl A. Howell previously ruled that Giuliani spread lies about them, intentionally inflicted emotional distress on them and engaged in a conspiracy with others while leading efforts to keep Trump in office.
Ashlee Humphreys, a professor at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism who testified as an expert witness for the plaintiffs, told jurors that the price to repair the damage done to their reputations would be between $17.4 million and $47.4 million. .
Giuliani's lawyer, Joseph Sibley IV, has said the amount of damages would be the civil equivalent of the death penalty: a description by Judge Howell called “hyperbolic.”
Although Georgia officials quickly dismissed the allegations against the two women and a year-long investigation cleared them of wrongdoing, Freeman and Moss said they continue to suffer the consequences.
Freeman said he could no longer use his name, making it difficult for him to buy a new home and have to register for utilities. He wears a mask and sunglasses when he is in public.
“Sometimes I don't know who I am,” he said. “What is my name today?”
After purchasing her new house, Ms. Freeman installed security cameras throughout. She said the neighbors are friendly, but she keeps to herself to avoid introductions.
“My life is a disaster,” he said at the end of his testimony. “It's really a disaster, all because someone criticized me, just tweeted my name to their millions of followers.”
Mr Sibley refused to question Ms Freeman. Giuliani's defense will begin Thursday, when she is expected to testify.
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