autoadmitIn the latest chapter of the AutoAdmit.com scandal, two female Yale Law School students have sued Anthony Ciolli, the Web site’s former “chief educational director,” and more than two dozen others who allegedly used pseudonyms and posted the students’ photos as well as defamatory and threatening remarks about them on the online law-school discussion forum. Here’s a copy of the complaint, as well as previous Law Blog posts (here, here and here) on the AutoAdmit controversy.

The law students aren’t named in the suit — filed yesterday in U.S. District Court in Connecticut — which claims the defendants violated copyright infringement by posting photos of one of the women without her permission, falsely posing as the women in posts on the site, and engaging in “unreasonable publicity given to another’s life; publicity that places another in a false light before the public; intentional infliction of emotional distress; negligent infliction of emotional distress; and defamation.”

The complaint asks for judgment against the defendants for unspecified damages as well as punitive damages in the amount of $245,400. Besides Ciolli, named defendants include individuals with pseudonyms such as “Pauliewalnuts” and “The Ayatollah of Rock-n-Rollah.”

“It’s bringing the right to protect yourself against offensive words and images into the 21st century,” said David N. Rosen, a New Haven, Conn.-based attorney for the students and a senior research scholar in law at Yale Law to the Law Blog in an interview. “This is the scummiest kind of sexually offensive tripe,” he said of the postings about the women on AutoAdmit. Rosen is joined by Mark A. Lemley, of counsel at San Francisco litigation boutique Keker & Van Nest and a professor at Stanford Law School who teaches computer and internet law. They are taking the case pro bono. Here, they have posted a notification on the lawsuit on AutoAdmit.

Ciolli, who recently graduated from Penn Law but whose job offer at a Boston law firm was rescinded for his involvement with the site, declined to comment. Jarret Cohen, a 23-year-old insurance broker in Allentown, Pa., who says he founded AutoAdmit and currently runs the site, did not respond to a request for comment. (The suit does not name Cohen or AutoAdmit as a defendant.)

The 17-page complaint says the attacks on the women have resulted in both “psychological and economic injury”—one woman believes the online postings hurt her chances of getting good summer associate work. The attacks allegedly caused her to take a semester off from school and receive an incomplete in one of her courses. The complaint says the other woman, who has taken a leave of absence from the school, became physically ill, had insomnia and visited a therapist.

The saga began with Washington Post’s expose of the site in March. At the time, the law students argued a prospective employer would inevitably Google their names and find the lewd discussions on AutoAdmit along with photographs of them copied from social networking sites such as Facebook. (One of the students from Yale told the WaPo that after 16 interviews with law firms for summer jobs she received no offers.)

The complaint alleges the participants in the discussion “threads,” which were posted between 2005 and earlier this year, intentionally tried to make the threads appear as one of the first search results returned by Google.

The complaint says the Web site, a discussion forum about colleges and graduate schools, has been managed by both Cohen and Ciolli, who never “attempted to remove any harassing, offensive, or threatening” posts despite the students’ requests, and that they were “fully aware the posts. . . were causing injury.”

In an online letter to another blogger from March 2005, Ciolli and Cohen identified themselves as AutoAdmit’s administrators and defended the site’s “free, uninhibited exchange of ideas.” In a previous interview with the Law Blog, Ciolli said Cohen “always had final say over all rules and policies related to the message board,” and that Cohen “rarely granted” his requests to remove offensive material. Cohen previously told the Law Blog, “It was me. I created the message board. I exercised ultimate authority. Anthony didn’t endorse any of this stuff. He doesn’t deserve this. This is guilt by association.”