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IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF KANSAS

DEBRA RITTGERS,

Plaintiff and Counterdefendant,

v.
Case No. 17-4019-SAC-KGG

MELVIN HALE,

Defendant and Counterclaimant.

DEFENDANTS’ ANSWER AND AFFIRMATIVE DEFENSES; AND COUNTER-CLAIM

Defendant Melvin Hale (hereinafter referred to as “Dr. Hale”) responds to Plaintiff

Counter-Defendant‟s Complaint as follows:

FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS

1. Dr. Hale admits the allegations in ¶ 1.

2. Dr. Hale admits that he is a resident of Arizona, but denies the remaining allegations in

¶ 2.

3. Dr. Hale denies the allegations in ¶ 3 as it pertains to the Court in Lyon County, Kansas.

4. Dr. Hale denies the allegations in ¶ 4.

5. Dr. Hale admits that Debra Rittgers ( hereinafter referred to as “Rittgers”) is employed by

Emporia State University, but lacks the information to admit or deny the remaining allegations in

¶ 5.
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6. Dr. Hale admits that Rittgers is employed by Emporia State University and is supervised

by Gwen Alexander, but lacks the information to admit or deny the remaining allegations in ¶ 6.

7. Dr. Hale admits that Angelica Hale (hereinafter referred to as “Angelica”), his spouse,

sent him a text message on April 8, 2015 with the picture of a notebook with the word

“NIGGAZ” scrawled on it, but denies the remaining allegations in ¶ 7.

8. Dr. Hale admits that Angelica sent an “Open Letter to Gwen Alexander” and to others in

the university community on July 27, 2015, but denies the remaining allegations in ¶ 8.

9. Dr. Hale admits that a website was created called March on Emporia, along with

Facebook and Twitter pages, but denies the remaining allegations in ¶ 9.

10. Dr. Hale denies the allegations in ¶ 10.

11. Dr. Hale lacks the information to admit or deny, the allegations contained in ¶ 11, and on

that basis, denies the allegations contained therein.

12. Dr. Hale lacks the information to admit or deny, the allegations contained in ¶ 12, and on

that basis, denies the allegations contained therein.

13. Dr. Hale lacks the information to admit or deny, the allegations contained in ¶ 13, and on

that basis, denies the allegations contained therein.

14. Dr. Hale lacks the information to admit or deny, the allegations contained in ¶ 14, and on

that basis, denies the allegations contained therein.

15. Dr. Hale denies the allegations in ¶ 15.

16. Dr. Hale denies the allegations in ¶ 16.

17. Dr. Hale denies the allegations in ¶ 17.

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AFFIRMATIVE DEFENSES
First Affirmative Defense
TRUTH

1. Truth is a complete bar to defamation. Rittgers‟ claim that Dr. Hale defamed her is

lacking in merit because what Dr. Hale reported is true: a noted forensic document examiner

stated that Rittgers is the most probable author of the slur found in the student‟s notebook. Dr.

Hale has never stated otherwise. Beyond that, Rittgers has refused to take a formal handwriting

examination or polygraph to controvert that opinion. Dr. Hale may never have direct knowledge

of whether or not Rittgers wrote the racial slur “NIGGAZ” in the student‟s notebook, but it is

true that Carlson offered her professional opinion that Rittgers is the most probable author. In

publishing Carlson‟s opinion, Dr. Hale will prove that:

 the statement was made in good faith;

 the statement was limited to serve a specific purpose;

 he had a duty or interest in communicating the statement; and

 he communicated it to someone with a corresponding duty or interest.

2. Rittgers‟ statement in her complaint, initially filed as a Counterclaim in 15-4947 on April

5, 2016, stated that “Angelica…indicated Debra as the most likely suspect” when Angelica

initially reported the incident to Dr. Hale. This is a flagrant falsehood. Angelica specifically

stated in her communication with Dr. Hale on April 8, 2015 that she had no idea who wrote the

slur, and Rittgers knew this when she filed her Counterclaim. In case 15-4947, in his Second

Amended Complaint, Dr. Hale‟s Exhibit A is a faithful copy of the text messages sent and

received between him and Angelica on April 8, 2015, and when he asks the question “Any

ideas?” Angelica responds “No.” She said nothing about Rittgers whatsoever. That same exhibit

is attached as Exhibit A, and is incorporated by reference herein. Dr. Hale and Angelica never

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discussed Rittgers as a suspect until June 2015 when Carlson provided her verbal opinion on

who wrote the slur.

3. Rittgers commences her lawsuit with a false statement, and knows for a fact her

allegations that Dr. Hale defamed her are false as well. Rittgers has had ample opportunity to

present controverting facts, if indeed those facts do exist. If and when Rittgers, or anyone else,

does present facts that exonerate her, those facts cannot be backdated and held against Dr. Hale

ex post facto. That would include the dubious exoneration provided to Rittgers by ESU Interim

President Jackie Vietti on September 10, 2015. The so-called words that allegedly defamed

Rittgers were the words in the verbal opinion of Wendy Carlson. A transcript of Carlson‟s

words is attached as Exhibit B, and is incorporated by reference herein. When confronted with

Carlson‟s opinion by Dr. Hale, Rittgers‟ boss, SLIM Dean Gwen Alexander, stated that “I don‟t

acknowledge [Carlson] as a handwriting expert. A transcript of Alexander‟s remarks is attached

as Exhibit C, and is incorporated by reference herein.

Second Affirmative Defense
FREEDOM OF SPEECH

4. Dr. Hale exercised his First Amendment rights. “[T]he First Amendment gives no more

protection to the press in defamation suits than it does to others exercising their freedom of

speech. None of our cases affords such a distinction; to the contrary, the Court has rejected it at

every turn.” Dun & Bradstreet, Inc. v. Greenmoss Builders, Inc., 472 U.S. 773 (1985).

“Freedom of the press is a „fundamental personal right‟ which „is not confined to newspapers

and periodicals. . . . The press in its historic connotation comprehends every sort of publication

which affords a vehicle of information and opinion.‟ The informative function asserted by

representatives of the organized press . . . is also performed by lecturers, political pollsters,

novelists, academic researchers, and dramatists.” Branzburg v. Hayes, 408 U.S. 704 (1972).

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5. Dr. Hale reported the opinion of a certified forensic document examiner in private to

ESU administrators and to the ESU Police Department, a circumstance under which he had

absolute privilege and immunity from charges of defamation, and he was rebuffed. ESU stated

that they would not follow-up with Carlson to make a more concrete determination as to the

author of the slur; neither would they investigate the incident of hate speech from a law-

enforcement perspective. Instead, ESU chose to investigate the hate speech matter as a

personnel matter using Ray Lauber in Human Resources. Dr. Hale views this as a form of

corruption designed to obscure and undermine transparency, and to withhold freedom of

information disclosures to the public. Interim President Vietti met with the Black Student Union

(BSU) and other student organizations to denounce Dr. Hale‟s protests, and demanded that they

not interfere in a “personnel matter.” A photo of Vietti meeting with the BSU on September 17,

2015, two days after the first March on Emporia, is attached as Exhibit D, and is incorporated by

reference herein. At the very next BSU meeting, the agenda indicates that they discussed the

matter of “disassociating” from “people in the community.” A correct copy of the BSU agenda

for September 24, 2015 is attached as Exhibit E, and is incorporated by reference herein.

6. The actions of ESU warranted public awareness on a matter of public concern, which is

of special interest to academic institutions nationwide and specifically in a social justice arena

such as the library field since the hate speech incident was committed at a library school. One

individual who made a comment on a Change.org petition regarding the March on Emporia that

was signed by over 300 people stated the following: “The president seems way too bent on

shutting down every POV that isn't, „Nothing happened, let's drop this already‟ in all of these

update and announcement things she keeps sending to students.” Another person who signed the

petition stated in her commentary: “Libraries and librarians are supposed to be inclusive, and are

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supposed to support the needs of the community they serve, a value that strongly influenced my

desire to go into the library field. It is heartbreaking to see this institution fall so drastically short

of these basic tenets of the discipline in which they purport to educate future librarians. It is

reprehensible that such behavior should be allowed to go unpunished.” To suggest that the

issues called into question by Dr. Hale‟s protest were not of public concern is to denigrate the

consciousness of those who are oppressed by unrelenting racism and white power each and every

day, and those in the white community who empathize.

7. In the context of this very public discussion, Carlson‟s opinion was subsequently relayed

to the press and published as a sub-element of that story. As a party to this matter of public

concern, Rittgers cannot sue Dr. Hale for defamation unless she can prove that Dr. Hale‟s

statements were not only false, but were published with knowledge of their falsity or in reckless

disregard of the truth. Note that Rittgers does not allege malice in her petition, and such a claim

would be thoroughly unfounded.

8. In an email message to SLIM Dean Gwen Alexander on August 26, 2015, the same day

that the dean and associate dean Andrew Smith viciously shut Dr. Hale down in the bi-weekly

faculty meeting for wanting to discuss the march and present letters of support from educators,

researchers and practitioners from across the country, Dr. Hale specifically noted that

Alexander‟s actions amounted to suppressing “a matter of freedom of speech.” A correct copy

of that email is attached as Exhibit F, and is incorporated by reference herein. A recording of

this incident in the aforementioned faculty meeting was provided to the Court in 15-4947 as

Voice 006.m4a, and referenced in Doc. 71, pg. 53. A transcript of what was said in the faculty

meeting is attached as Exhibit G, and is incorporated by reference herein. One of the letters of

support from educators across the country that Dr. Hale wanted to present to the SLIM faculty is

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attached as Exhibit H, and is incorporated by reference herein. A letter of support from black

faculty and staff at ESU is attached as Exhibit I, and is incorporated by reference herein.

Third Affirmative Defense
NO ACTUAL MALICE

9. Rittgers‟ defamation claim arises in the context of a matter of public concern; the manner

in which Emporia State University set out to investigate a law enforcement matter as a personnel

matter, which was and is totally inapposite and devious. In Dun & Bradstreet, Inc. v. Greenmoss

Builders, Inc., the Court held that when statements about a private individual that relate to

important matters of public concern are at issue, the plaintiff must show actual malice by the

defendant to recover punitive or presumed damages. 472 U.S. 749, 758–61 (1985). The fact that

the matter was one of public concern can be ascertained from the words of Interim President

Vietti herself. BSU vice president Deidra Elijah sent a message to Vietti on or about September

9, 2015 in which she stated that she was disappointed in the results of the “investigation,” and

that “I think it is truly sad that the University continues to sweep racial issues under the rug.” A

true and correct of Elijah‟s email is attached as Exhibit J, and is incorporated by reference

herein. Vietti‟s response to Elijah includes the following statement: “[M]y message wasn‟t

meant to imply that I believe we should move on and forget this terrible issue. Rather I believe

we should us [sic] it is as the foundation for taking on any and all racial and other diversity

issues that exist at Emporia State.” A true and correct of Vietti‟s email is attached as Exhibit K,

and is incorporated by reference herein. The Action Matters program at the University of

Michigan, Oshkosh, is an example of how bias incidents, which includes hate speech, should be

dealt with using best practices. The program suggests reporting the incident using a confidential

report line and reporting the matter to the University Police so that they could take pictures and

obtain a formal report. It says nothing about making a personnel report. ESU did the exact

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opposite of best practices, which has a lot to do with why Rittgers‟ name was exposed. A couple

of web pages from the Action Matters website are attached as Exhibit L, and are incorporated by

reference herein. ESU is listed as a participant in the Action Matters program, but there was no

evidence that it was implemented, and it is not mentioned by ESU.

10. Vietti viewed the issues involved in Hale‟s protests as socially and politically significant,

and of enormous public concern. Her comments can be construed in no other way. She called

those issues foundational for ESU future plans in the areas of race and diversity. A text message

from Elijah to Angelica Hale on September 3, 2015 makes the same point. Elijah wrote: “Good

Morning Mrs. Hale, My government teacher had me stand in front of the class to talk to them

about the March. I am wearing my shirt today! It is truly an honor to be supporting you all!” A

true and correct of Elijah‟s text message to Angelica is attached as Exhibit M, and is

incorporated by reference herein. Elijah and members of the BSU sold March On Emporia

t-shirts in the student union. A photo posted by Elijah on her Facebook page showing her selling

t-shirts with two other BSU members is attached as Exhibit N, and is incorporated by reference

herein. The march, and all the activities associated with what Dr. Hale was doing, was of

profound public concern, not only locally, but nationally and globally. It is a continuation of the

battle for civil rights, and for minority voices being heard. In the context of a matter of public

concern the handwriting opinion of Carlson was publicized. Even the campus newspaper, the

ESU Bulletin separately contacted Carlson in October 2015 for a story in which Carlson

reiterated her findings again directly to student reporter Sarah Spoon.

11. The Associated Press printed an article in their Big Story section on July 29, 2015

entitled Emporia State couple claims racial harassment at university. Although Dr. Hale

mentioned Carlson‟s opinion to the AP reporter, Margaret Stafford, Stafford neither named

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Rittgers in the article, nor for that matter, insinuated that a university employee was involved. A

true and correct of the AP story is attached as Exhibit O, and is incorporated by reference

herein. Numerous individuals signed a public Change.org petition which requested that the

American Library Association not give SLIM full accreditation, but rather conditional

accreditation. One of the signers of the petition was Catherine Terrell, whose husband Dr. Nate

Terrell taught at ESU for twenty years. Dr. Hale met with Dr. Terrell while he was still at ESU,

and Dr. Terrell was the head of a group of black faculty and staff which met on a regular basis to

discuss issues of diversity at ESU. Catherine‟s comment is attached as Exhibit P, and is

incorporated by reference herein. She stated: “I believe that ESU can do more to send a message

of acceptance and inclusion of all races, particularly Black students and Faculty and staff.”

Fourth Affirmative Defense
CONSTITUTIONAL PRIVILEGE

12. In a much cited case, Gertz v. Robert Welch, Inc, 418 U.S. 323, 337 (U.S. 1974), the

Supreme Court writes that “In his opinion for the plurality in Rosenbloom v. Metromedia, Inc.,

403 U.S. 29 (1971), Mr. Justice Brennan took the New York Times privilege one step further. He

concluded that its protection should extend to defamatory falsehoods relating to private persons

if the statements concerned matters of general or public interest. He abjured the suggested

distinction between public officials and public figures on the one hand and private individuals on

the other. He focused instead on society's interest in learning about certain issues: „If a matter is

a subject of public or general interest, it cannot suddenly become less so merely because a

private individual is involved, or because in some sense the individual did not `voluntarily'

choose to become involved.‟ Id., at 43. Thus, under the plurality opinion, a private citizen

involuntarily associated with a matter of general interest has no recourse for injury to his

reputation unless he can satisfy the demanding requirements of the New York Times test.”

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13. As the reporter and the publisher of a matter of public concern, Dr. Hale is afforded the

protection of constitutional privilege known as the New York Times Test derived from New York

Times Co. v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254 (1964.) It bars media liability for defamation of a public

official absent proof that the defamatory statements were published with knowledge of their

falsity or in reckless disregard of the truth. The court concluded that that standard protects media

discussion of a public issue without regard to whether the person defamed is a public official as

in New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, supra, or a public figure, as in Curtis Publishing Co. v. Butts,

388 U.S. 130.

14. Dr. Hale has training in media communications, scholarly communications, and

journalism; adheres to journalistic standards such as editing, fact-checking and disclosures of

conflicts of interest; records conversations via notes and video and audio recordings; and makes

a concerted effort to get all sides of a story. Dr. Hale is a researcher with a doctorate in

Information Studies from UCLA, and above all he values empirical scientific methods to arrive

at facts and objective truth. As a media defendant, Rittgers must prove that the alleged

defamatory falsehood was made “with knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard of

whether it was false or not,” a fault standard known as “actual malice.” New York Times Co. v.

Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254, 280 (1964). This is constitutional privilege. Rittgers acknowledges that

Dr. Hale was in contact with traditional media sources, was involved in public demonstrations,

and that his views were available on this and related matters on the Internet, visited by a global

audience. Dr. Hale in this regard acted no differently than a traditional reporter. Dr. Hale has

since published a book entitled Django Unchained and the March on Emporia State:

Institutional Racism as Practiced on an Academic Plantation in Kansas. November 2016. A

photo of the book is shown in Exhibit Q, and is incorporated by reference herein. From the

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onset, Dr. Hale‟s remarks were not directed at Rittgers, but at the seemingly pervasive

performance of racism, suppression of freedom of speech, and retaliation practiced at Emporia

State University and in academic institutions and private enterprises across America. In New

York Times Co. v. Sullivan, the U.S. Supreme Court stated that “The general proposition that

freedom of expression upon public questions is secured by the First Amendment has long been

settled by our decisions .... [W]e consider this case against the background of a profound national

commitment to the principle that debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide-

open, and that it may well include vehement, caustic, and sometimes unpleasantly sharp attacks

on government and public officials . . . Like the various other formulae for the repression of

expression that have been challenged in this Court, libel can claim no talismanic immunity from

constitutional limitations. It must be measured by standards that satisfy the First Amendment.”

376 U.S. at 269, 293, 297. Rittgers‟ suit is an attack against the First Amendment, and in direct

retaliation for the exercise thereof.

Fifth Affirmative Defense
RETRACTION

15. Dr. Hale has always been willing to relay a new opinion on the writing of the slur based

on forensic science, such as a London Letter handwriting examination and a polygraph test. He

believes that this is the most direct route to resolving this dispute. Despite a statement by Vietti

that Rittgers offered to take these tests to clear her name, Vietti exonerated Rittgers and then

released her from having to do so. Without empirical forensic evidence to controvert the existing

opinion of a forensic document examiner, a retraction by Dr. Hale is not warranted; neither was

the exoneration by Vietti. Dr. Hale provided a true and accurate photocopy of the notebook page

with the word “NIGGAZ” on it in case 15-4947 in his motion for summary judgment, and

attaches the same photocopy of the notebook page here as Exhibit R, which is incorporated by

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reference herein. Despite comments to the contrary made by Vietti and other ESU officials, the

digital photocopy of the offending racial slur is materially sufficient to support forensic

examination. The writing is quite distinctive and clear.

Sixth Affirmative Defense
RESERVATION OF ADDITIONAL AFFIRMATIVE DEFENSES

16. Dr. Hale may have additional defenses that cannot be articulated at this early date due to

Plaintiff‟s failure to particularize its claims and due to Plaintiff‟s failure to provide more specific

information concerning the nature of its alleged claims for damages and certain costs for which

Plaintiff alleges that Dr. Hale may bear some responsibility. Dr. Hale therefore reserves the right

to assert additional defenses upon further particularization of Plaintiff‟s claims, upon

examination of the documents produced, upon discovery of further information concerning the

claims for alleged damages and costs, and upon development of other pertinent information

during the course of this litigation.

PRAYER FOR RELIEF

WHEREFORE, Defendant Melvin Hale prays for judgment as follows: (A) That

Plaintiff Debra Rittgers takes nothing by way of its Complaint; (B) that the Complaint be

Dismissed With Prejudice; and (C) That Judgment be entered against Plaintiff Debra Rittgers

and in favor of Defendant Melvin Hale.

Dated: April 27, 2017 Respectfully submitted,

______________________________
/s/ Melvin Hale, Defendant Pro Se
P.O. Box 34179
Los Angeles, CA 90034
reefresh@yahoo.com
916-690-7927

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COUNTERCLAIM

Defendant-Counterclaimant MELVIN HALE (hereinafter referred to as “Dr.

Hale”) hereby brings the following Counterclaim against Plaintiff-Counterdefendant DEBRA

RITTGERS (hereinafter referred to as “Rittgers”) as follows:

JURISDICTION AND VENUE

1. This Court has subject matter jurisdiction over this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§

1331and 1332 because this matter involves a civil action arising under the Constitution, laws, or

treaties of the United States, and because it is between citizens of different states and the amount

in controversy, exclusive of interest and costs, exceeds Seventy-Five Thousand and 00/100

Dollars ($75,000). Additionally, this Court has pendant, ancillary, and/or supplemental

jurisdiction over the state law claims asserted in this litigation pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367.

2. Plaintiff-Counterdefendant resides in the State of Kansas.

3. Venue is appropriate in the United States District Court for Kansas pursuant to 28 U.S.C.

§ 1391(b) and (c) since Plaintiff-Counterdefendant resides in this district and a substantial part of

Plaintiff-Counterdefendant‟s unlawful conduct and the injuries occurred in this district.

PARTIES

4. Plaintiff-Counterdefendant is employed by Emporia State University (ESU) in Emporia,

Kansas, and during the period under examination was the Assistant to the Dean of the School of

Library and Information Management (SLIM). According to Plaintiff-Counterdefendant‟s

complaint she has been employed by ESU for 24 years.

5. Defendant-Counterclaimant Dr. Hale is a resident of Arizona, and during the period

under examination was under contract to Emporia State University as an Assistant Professor in

SLIM until May 2016, when that contract expired.

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FACTUAL BACKGROUND

6. Rittgers began accumulating a history of committing micro-aggressions against the Hales

almost as soon as they arrived at SLIM.

7. Dr. Hale demanded in December 2014 that Dean Alexander move his wife Angelica

Hale, who was employed as Assistant to the Dean for Media Communications and Marketing,

from the same office with Rittgers on the third floor to an office on the fourth floor.

8. Dr. Hale believed the aforementioned micro-aggressions to be racially motivated.

9. On April 8, 2015 Angelica Hale (hereinafter referred to as “Angelica”) was contacted by

her graduate assistant named Brenda regarding an incident involving Brenda‟s office on the

fourth floor of the library building.

10. According to Brenda when she arrived at work, which was a part-time job in which she

worked 20 hours a week reporting to Angelica, she found her office door unlocked, things

tampered with in her office, and the racial slur “NIGGAZ” written by an unknown person on her

notepad.

11. Dr. Hale was in a regularly scheduled faculty meeting with Dean Alexander and staff in

the library building when he received Angelica‟s text.

12. Dr. Hale accompanied Dean Alexander to her office after the meeting and relayed the

message to her that he had received from Angelica.

13. Angelica joined the meeting with Dean Alexander after a time and filled Alexander in on

what she knew had happened.

14. Dr. Hale requested that Alexander follow-up with Brenda.

15. Dr. Hale asked Alexander to take action on investigating the incident.

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16. For the better part of two months there was no apparent action by Alexander, neither did

she talk with Brenda about the incident.

17. On her own accord, and for reasons known to her, Angelica came to believe that the

handwriting on Brenda‟s notepad resembled that of Rittgers.

18. Unbeknownst to Dr. Hale, Angelica sought out a forensic document examiner to examine

the writing of the slur in Brenda‟s notebook.

19. The forensic document examiner Angelica chose was Wendy Carlson.

20. Angelica paid Carlson $300 for a verbal opinion, and Carlson provided that verbal

opinion in June, 2015, stating that the writing was most probably that of Rittgers.

21. When it appeared obvious that Alexander was taking no action on the matter, Dr. Hale

and Angelica subsequently reported the matter to ESU Provost David Cordle and others in the

administration.

22. On or about July 1, 2015, Dr. Hale and Angelica provided the same information to the

ESU Police Department and the local district attorney and asked them to investigate the matter as

a hate crime.

23. On or about July 1, 2015, all of the ESU officials and the law enforcement agents refused

to follow-up with Carlson nor Rittgers despite knowing about Carlson‟s opinion.

24. No one in law enforcement took any action to photograph the office where the incident

occurred, talk to Brenda, or to secure the evidence.

25. ESU officials and law enforcement immediately refused to characterize the slur as a hate

crime, or as a manifestation of hate speech, stating it was just a word on a piece of paper.

26. All of the ESU officials and the law enforcement contacted stated that no crime occurred,

and that the writing of a word on a piece of paper is not a crime under any circumstances.

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27. Following what she perceived to be flagrant retaliation for her reporting of an instance of

hate speech for which no law enforcement investigation would commence, Angelica wrote an

Open Letter to Dean Alexander in which she referred to the expert opinion of Carlson.

28. Following a protracted internal “investigation” which was announced on September 9,

2015, Rittgers was exonerated by the university of any misconduct, and the university alleviated

any requirement that she have her handwriting tested.

29. Dr. Hale and Angelica conducted two protest marches on campus against the dubious

internal investigation and racial discrimination, among other things.

30. The marches against racism and university corruption occurred at the same time as

numerous campus protests against racism that were taking place across America, including

protests nearby at the University of Missouri (Mizzou) where the president of the university

system was forced to resign.

31. Danielle Walker, a leader in the protests at Mizzou attended the second March on

Emporia as a guest speaker.

32. When a Special Agent from the Topeka Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) visited Dr.

Hale at ESU on December 2, 2015 at Dr. Hale‟s request, Rittgers was seen by Dr. Hale, the FBI

agent, and Angelica, hurrying from the library building with two other SLIM employees.

33. Rittgers left the building and drove away terminating any chance that she could be

questioned by the FBI agent.

34. Rittgers knows that she cannot prevail in the instant litigation, but filed her lawsuit to

frustrate and silence Dr. Hale for speaking out against racism, a protected activity.

35. Dr. Hale believes that Rittgers‟ action is an expansion of her initial micro-aggressions.

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36. Dr. Hale believes that Rittgers is well aware that his activities are protected by the First

Amendment.

37. Dr. Hale himself became the target of a vicious online defamation campaign.

38. One article called Dr. Hale a “dipshit,” and stated that “Hale and his wife most likely

concocted a hate crime hoax.” A copy of a web page from that site called the iOTWReport.com

is attached as Exhibit S, and is incorporated by reference herein.

39. Another online website called DownTrend.com accused Dr. Hale of demanding an

investigation and suing because he didn‟t like the results. A quote from that article reads:

“Here‟s how I see it: The Hales were campus agitators that constantly complained about racism

that didn‟t exist. They likely staged a hate crime because they couldn‟t prove their claims of

racism any other way. When the university investigated and found that the hate crime was

bullshit and that the Hales were probably behind it, Melvin Hale filed a lawsuit to save face.” A

copy of that article is attached as Exhibit T, and is incorporated by reference herein.

40. The online character assassination of Dr. Hale was unrelenting. A Facebook page by

someone calling himself James Alt stated: “Even if being a liar and a fraud isn‟t enough to get

him fired, being an obnoxious jackass might be.” A copy of that Facebook page is attached as

Exhibit U, and is incorporated by reference herein.

41. Dr. Hale and Angelica‟s names were added to an online directory called Moonbattery

which catalogued so-called hate hoax incidents in America. A copy of the Moonbattery website

pages referring to the Hales are attached as Exhibit V, and are incorporated by reference herein.

42. Dr. Hale believes that this onslaught of malicious hate was directed by ESU officials, and

that Rittgers was a party to this vile campaign.

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43. Dr. Hale believes that Rittgers was exonerated because she was embedded with the white

political and social culture at Emporia State and complicit with their campaign to silence him.

44. Dr. Hale and Angelica have both filed Title VII and Section 1983 lawsuits in this district

against ESU and its administrators for First Amendment Retaliation.

45. Dr. Rajesh Singh, who was terminated from the same library school at ESU in 2014, has

also filed a lawsuit against ESU and its top administrators alleging discrimination and retaliation.

46. After being named a defendant in Dr. Hale‟s lawsuit against ESU, Rittgers filed a

defective counterclaim in which she failed to answer Dr. Hale claims against her.

47. At the same time that Rittgers filed her counterclaim, Dr. Hale was faced with three

motions to dismiss his third amended complaint, brought by Kansas Attorney General, Derek

Schmidt.

48. The actions of the Attorney General‟s office amounted to a coordinated assault on Dr.

Hale. Rittgers‟ attorney listed the AG as their “lead attorney.”

49. The Court dismissed Rittgers‟ counterclaim for failure to provide an answer, and also

dismissed her as a defendant in Hale‟s lawsuit, but left the door open for the current action.

50. On information and belief, Rittgers filed her counterclaim as part of a concerted effort by

ESU et al. to harass and prevent Dr. Hale from exercising his Constitutional rights to freedom of

speech, and in retaliation for exercising said rights.

51. Although Vietti admits to meeting with Rittgers during the internal investigation on more

than one occasion, Vietti steadfastly refused to meet with Dr. Hale to discuss his perspectives

and concerns, showing official bias.

52. The agenda for the meeting of the accreditation team for SLIM from the American

Library Association the week of October 26, 205 shows that Dr. Hale was excluded from voicing

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his concerns at ESU SLIM while all other faculty had a scheduled meeting with them. A copy of

that agenda is attached as Exhibit W, and is incorporated by reference herein.

53. Dr. Hale believes that if Rittgers were sincerely interested in clearing her name, she

would not rely on a dubious internal “investigation” or on bare denials, but would produce

evidence of her innocence.

54. Rittgers cannot claim damages because she has done nothing to mitigate those alleged

damages.

55. At the time that Rittgers filed her original counterclaim in April 2016 she had opportunity

to timely re-file an independent complaint to which she could have joined Angelica as a

defendant.

56. The untimely joinder of Angelica to this lawsuit resulted in an order from the Court

dismissing Rittgers‟ claims against Angelica.

57. Rittgers‟ conduct towards Dr. Hale and his wife was strained while they worked there,

and many of her actions could be interpreted as hostile.

58. Rittgers brought her suit as a means to silence Dr. Hale, who she knows does not have the

financials to hire counsel, and thus she hoped to defeat him by financial attrition, not on the facts

of her case.

59. Rittgers has the support of ESU and the Kansas Attorney General in her legal contest

with Dr. Hale, who is self-represented.

60. Dr. Hale was served by a process server and the sheriff at Indiana University while he

was preparing to present a talk on the KBI theory which he defended in his doctoral studies at

UCLA, a move intended to embarrass him and damage his career opportunities in academia.

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61. Rittgers cannot claim that she has suffered adverse consequences in her employment or

finances as a result of the alleged defamation.

62. In the spring of 2016 Rittgers was promoted to a position in the Teachers College.

63. Rittgers‟ daughter Alexa Thomas, who she mentions as being damaged by defamatory

words, has posted numerous videos online in which she claims to be having a wonderful time at

ESU. A partial transcript and photos from Alexa‟s YouTube video entitled My Story is attached

as Exhibit X, and is incorporated by reference herein.

64. Since the incident, ESU has featured Rittgers‟ daughter Alexa in numerous promotional

materials, including a video with SLIM professor Mirah Dow.

65. Prior to coming to ESU both Alexa, and Rittgers‟ live-in boyfriend Paul Mains, were

members of a Facebook public group called WTF303.

66. What is interesting about WTF303 is that the home page has a comment posted on May

30, 2013 which simply says: “what n the nigger!?” A copy of the WTF303 Facebook page and

related pages are attached as Exhibit Y, and are incorporated by reference herein.

67. Rittgers knows that Hale was engaged in Constitutionally protected activities when he

was involved in protests against racism, and that her claim of defamation would chill a normal

person from continuing to engage in those protests, which has now extended to Dr. Hale‟s

current protests in various forms of media.

68. Rittgers has never filed a defamation suit against Carlson despite the fact that she states

that Carlson defamed her in her complaint.

69. The ESU student paper, The Bulletin, printed an article which stated that Hale Must

Retract or Face the Axe, and Hale made his motivations known. The Bulletin article is attached

as Exhibit Z, and is incorporated by reference herein.

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70. The writer of the aforementioned Bulletin article, ESU student Editor-in-Chief Sarah

Spoon, contacted Carlson, and received the same opinion that she gave Angelica.

71. The Bulletin article mentioned Carlson‟s opinion, as well as Rittgers‟ name, but Rittgers

is not suing the Bulletin.

72. Rittgers has failed to pursue her defamation case in a judicious and diligent manner.

73. Rittgers brought her action against Dr. Hale in Lyon County despite the fact that Dr. Hale

was a resident of a different state.

74. Rittgers‟ choice of jurisdiction suggests that she had hoped to use local jurists that were

sympathetic to ESU and a fellow Kansan to convict Dr. Hale.

75. Dr. Hale views this entire experience in Emporia as a form of modern-day lynching, in

which Rittgers is an integral player.

76. Dr. Hale has recently started research on a book entitled: Emporia State University: Case

Study of a 21st Century Lynch Mob.

77. The preliminary cover of the book is attached as Exhibit AA, and is incorporated by

reference herein.

78. Rittgers‟ actions suggest that her claims are not urgent or legitimate, but rather a staged

integral component of a nefarious scheme to destroy the livelihood and reputation of an

upstanding African American in an act of racism and white rage reminiscent of previous forms

of violence perpetrated against African Americans.

79. Rittgers‟ mere statement that she did not write the word “NIGGAZ” in the graduate

student‟s notepad is not a fact upon which anyone can rely.

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80. Dr. Hale has repeatedly called for Rittgers to do something to clear her name if she is not

involved in the hate speech incident, but all he has ever received from her is the bare denial

offered in her petition.

81. Dr. Hale spent five years of his life at a cost exceeding $250,000 to obtain a doctorate

from UCLA at age sixty (60).

82. Rittgers‟ actions have damaged Dr. Hale‟s ability to find work in academia.

83. Because of his age, currently sixty-two (62) and academic specialization, Dr. Hale faces a

future without prospects for gainful employment to which he is suited.

84. Dr. Hale has applied to over 150 jobs since leaving ESU and has gotten as far as the

fourth round of interviews, but has never been hired.

85. The actions of Rittgers and her accomplices at ESU are directly responsible for the

apparent destruction of Dr. Hale‟s bright future both in and outside of academia.

86. Rittgers‟ claim of defamation by Dr. Hale is in fact defamatory itself, and because its

publication is readily found on the Internet, it has done untold harm to his reputation.

COUNTERCLAIM FOR RELIEF
Individual Capacity 42 U.S.C. § 1983 Claim Against Plaintiff-Counterdefendant Debra
Rittgers for First Amendment Retaliation

87. Defendant-Counterclaimant Dr. Hale repeats, re-alleges, and incorporates by reference

the allegations set forth in paragraphs 1-86 as if fully set forth herein.

88. Plaintiff-Counterdefendant Debra Rittgers retaliated against Defendant-Counterclaimant

Hale for engaging in activities protected by 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the First Amendment to the U.S.

Constitution and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S.

Constitution.

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89. Plaintiff-Counterdefendant Debra Rittgers acted under color of state law when she

violated Defendant-Counterclaimant Hale‟s rights.

90. Defendant-Counterclaimant Hale has been damaged by the illegal conduct of Plaintiff-

Counterdefendant Debra Rittgers.

91. Defendant-Counterclaimant Hale is entitled to pursue relief against Plaintiff-

Counterdefendant Debra Rittgers under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

WHEREFORE, Defendant-Counterclaimant Melvin Hale prays that judgment be

entered against Plaintiff-Counterdefendant Debra Rittgers for an amount in excess of $75,000.00,

for punitive damages, compensatory damages, economic damages, for all remedies allowed by

law including an award of fees and costs, and for such other and further relief as the Court may

order.

Dated: April 27, 2017 Respectfully submitted,

______________________________
/s/ Melvin Hale, Defendant Pro Se
P.O. Box 34179
Los Angeles, CA 90034
reefresh@yahoo.com
916-690-7927

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