COVINGTON -- The attorney representing the Alcovy High School principal's lawsuit against web commenters on the Newton Citizen website began taking depositions this week.
On Thursday, attorney Stephanie Lindsey questioned Conyers resident Shannon Black, who has claimed three identities on the website named in the defamation suit brought forth by Principal LaQuanda Carpenter.
Present at the deposition were Lindsey; Black; attorney Jeff Foster, who represents Newton County Board of Education member Jeff Meadors, who also was named in the suit; a court reporter; a staff member from the Newton Citizen; and two staff members from the Covington News newspaper.
Lindsey questioned Black, who attended the deposition without attorney representation, about her background, threats made to her regarding the lawsuit and her daughter's time in the Newton County School System one and two years ago when she attended West Newton Elementary School and later Veterans Memorial Middle School, where she was bullied.
Lindsey also asked Black if she knew or had communication with Meadors; his co-worker at Georgia Perimeter College; an employee at the NCSS central office; former Alcovy High School teacher Kevin Dockery, to whom Lindsey sent a cease and desist letter but hasn't been named in the suit; and another person.
Black denied all except for talking to Meadors when she had the bullying problem with her daughter; she said she hasn't communicated with him since. When asked by Lindsey, Black also denied being friends with Meadors on Facebook and supplying him letters to the editor to provide to the Citizen.
Black admitted, as she has in the past, to posting comments on the website under the names shannonblack, kbeet and msloy. Lindsey asked Black how she knew or obtained the information she posted, including copies of e-mails and allegations of criminal activities.
Black admitted that for many of her comments, a person she knew who used to be a substitute teacher at Alcovy High School e-mailed her the information and she, in turn, posted them on the site. When asked by Lindsey, Black admitted to not verifying if the information was valid or correct.
She denied receiving any information from other individuals.
Black said she doesn't know why she posted her comments.
"I know what I did was wrong," she said about posting the comments. "That's why I came out. ... I'm at fault."
"All of this has caused a blemish on the school system," Lindsey told Black, adding that it also caused harm to Carpenter's reputation.
Black said she didn't consider what kind of effect posting comments would have.
She denied knowing the identities of other posters who have made comments on the website.
When asked by Lindsey, Black said she won't post anymore comments on site.
Before the deposition, Lindsey had requested that Black produce audio recordings of a person purporting to be Carpenter and copies of e-mails that she has posted on the Newton Citizen and Covington News websites. Black didn't bring the audio with her, and she said she didn't have the e-mails because she deleted them.
Lindsey asked Black to see if she has them in a deleted folder on her computer and said she plans to amend her request to include e-mails from the substitute teacher who sent Black the information to post.
After the deposition, Lindsey said she was arranging a deposition with Meadors.
Originally, Lindsey had subpoenaed the Citizen in April to supply identifying information about 11 web posters, but in July, Newton County Superior Court Judge Eugene Benton granted a motion to stop the subpoena. The judge said the newspaper could be re-subpoenaed in the future if Lindsey cannot identify web posters by other means.