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Lawyer Ordered To Pay $4.5M To Gay U-M Student

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Andrew Shirvell (video screenshot)

Andrew Shirvell (video screenshot)

DETROIT (WWJ/AP) - A jury has found in favor of a gay University of Michigan student body president in his lawsuit against a former Michigan assistant attorney general.

Christopher Armstrong’s attorney Deborah Gordon says a jury in U.S. District court awarded her client $4.5 million Thursday in his case against Andrew Shirvell. Armstrong accused Shirvell of defamation and causing the student emotional distress both online and during visits to the Ann Arbor campus.

“It was definitely a nightmare when it was going on,” Armstrong told WWJ Newsradio 950’s Sandra McNeil. “It was very hurtful — a lot of the things that were said and put out there about me, and I’m just glad that the record has been set straight.”

In filing the lawsuit last spring, Armstrong claimed Shirvell had been stalking him on campus and at his home. Armstrong’s attorney Deborah Gordon said in the complaint that Shirvell displayed a “bizarre personal obsession” with Armstrong through critical blog and Facebook posts in which he claimed Armstrong was pushing a “radical homosexual agenda.”

Then-Attorney General Mike Cox fired Shirvell in 2010 after he criticized Armstrong. Shirvell said he was acting within his First Amendment rights and that his statements were either true or protected because of Armstrong’s role as a public figure.

Armstrong had offered to drop the suit if Shirvell apologized.

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(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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