On Tuesday, Robert Sepulveda Jr. — the prize of Logo TV’s reality “romance” competition Finding Prince Charming — made vague threats via social media to prosecute unspecified people for “targeted harassment, shaming and bullying… to the fullest extent of the law.” It’s unclear who Sepulveda was talking about — publications or individuals — and it’s futile since his viable legal options against bullying remain limited. It’s also curious considering that these new threats come after a recent attempt by his lawyer to scrub evidence of his sex work from the internet.
Here’s the post Sepulveda made on Tuesday via Instagram:
Targeted harassment, shaming and bullying is wrong and against the law – it doesn’t matter the age! Listen closely folks, if you come for me, we will come for you and prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law. BULLYING IS WRONG! It says more about you and your own insecurities then the people you are bullying. Bullying, shaming and targeted harassment has effects on REAL people and REAL lives. And if you support these people or their actions then you are part of the problem. In the beautiful words of Martin Luther King: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” and on that note….come for me – you’ll be hearing from my attorneys. #BullyingIsWrong #lovewins
We assume all this started about a month ago when the world learned of Sepulveda’s past life as a sex worker. Sex work is so reviled that even some of Prince Charming’s suitors anonymously expressed disgust over it — so it makes sense trolls might have harassed and bullied Sepulveda for it.
Unfortunately for Sepulveda, unless he can prove that the bullies are publishing untrue statements about him, issuing violent threats, or causing him financial or psychological pain, the likelihood of successfully prosecuting them is slim to none. Current libel and slander laws allow people to make statements against a person if the statements are true, opinion or criticize a public figure — in Sepulveda’s case, all three apply.
If Sepulveda could prove any incidents of bullying and harassment that didn’t fall under these three defenses, he’d then have to prove that they harmed his psyche enough to create physical manifestations requiring therapy. Either that or that the bullying damaged his ability to make money in the future (something that can be very hard to prove).
And even if he did THAT, it’s rare to achieve a successful court victory against cyberbullies — so much that most parents of “bully-cide” victims push legislators to create anti-bullying laws rather than litigating bullies in court. Even Dharun Ravi, the infamous bully who drove Tyler Clementi to commit suicide after airing Clementi’s sexual encounter online, recently had his conviction overturned on free speech grounds.
In short, unless Sepulveda can substantiate a violent threat, he really has no hope of prosecuting anyone. That may not stop him from trying though: if he picks an ignorant target, he could scare them into silence, but it wouldn’t accomplish much — after all, most gay blogs are running stories about his sex work past and you can easily find his videos online too.
Rather, Sepulveda should out his bullies and show the sort of hate he’s been subjected to. That would change the conversation from his shame about sex work to the stigma sex workers face — precisely the conversation we should have been having when all this started, if not decades ago.