'Fake' Online Love Affair Becomes Legal Battle


Lawyer for St. James: 'Case Was Not Well Pleaded

Bonhomme's lawsuit seeks compensatory damages above $100,000, as well as punitive damages significant enough to stop St. James from "conducting similar future schemes."

While St. James' lawyer Perko said she does "not think it's appropriate to try the case in the press," she emphasized that the suit was initially dismissed at the earliest possible step.

Documents filed by previous attorneys hired by St. James said Bonhomme's complaint lacked specificity. And, pointing out that the relationships were born in an Internet chat room where people with fictional screen names talked about fictional characters, the defense attorneys argued that Bonhomme didn't sufficiently show "material misrepresentation of fact."

"Basically, the Plaintiff's allegations amount to nothing more than stating that she saw darkness because she refused to open her eyes and see the light," the document said.

But Daliah Saper, Bonhmomme's attorney, said the case has been especially frustrating to litigate because the laws and awareness surrounding online relationships and behavior are so embryonic.

"This was before the wave of cyberbullying laws that were passed, just before it being such a hot topic," said Saper, whom Bonhomme met online and has never met face-to-face. "The court struggled to even recognize the set of facts to be traditional causes of action."

But she said they continue to persevere because this kind of online harassment "is more common than people think."

"[Bonhomme] wants justice. She doesn't want Janna doing this to other people," she said.

But Bonhomme said she wonders if even the law can can put a stop to the alleged deception that she thinks stems from a need for "attention" and "love." Still, she said she hopes the ongoing legal dispute eventually brings her the resolution she's looking for.

"Every time there's a court decision, I get a lot of blog action. …It brings it back like an old war wound when it's raining," she said. "I'm hoping at some point this will all go away."

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