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Former Michigan Assistant Attorney General Held Liable for Targeting Gay Student

On August 16, 2012, a federal jury in Detroit found Andrew Shirvell, a homophobic former Michigan Assistant Attorney General, guilty of stalking, defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress and invasion of privacy in a civil lawsuit filed by Chris Armstrong, the University of Michigan’s first openly gay student body president.

Armstrong’s suit, filed in May 2011, sought damages as well as injunctive relief. The jury awarded him damages totaling $4.5 million.

Shirvell had been fired from the Attorney General’s office in 2010 after he "repeatedly violated office policies, engaged in borderline stalking behavior and inappropriately used state resources" to target Armstrong, both online and in person, according to State Attorney General Mike Cox, who noted that Shirvell also lied about his actions to investigators.

Shirvell had created a blog site called "Chris Armstrong Watch," in which he accused Armstrong of giving alcohol to minors, recruiting other people to become homosexuals and holding gay orgies, and referred to Armstrong as "Satan’s representative," a pervert and a gay Nazi. At one point, Armstrong sought a personal protection order against Shirvell.

Himself a University of Michigan alumnus, Shirvell remained defiant and unrepentant after the jury’s verdict, saying the damages award was "grossly excessive" and "absolutely outrageous." He characterized the verdict, which he predicted would be overturned on appeal, as "a complete trampling" of his First Amendment rights. See: Armstrong v. Shirvell, U.S.D.C. (E.D. Mich.), Case No. 2:11-cv-11921-AJT-PJK.

Sources: CNN,, Detroit Free Press,

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Related legal case

Armstrong v. Shirvell