Meme defamed NRL great’s daughter: court

A jury has ruled NRL great Mark Geyer’s daughter was defamed by a Facebook meme that wrongly identified her at the centre of a rugby league sex scandal.

Montanna Geyer had sued the man she claimed published two memes – posted on NRL Memes and NRL Quality Memes respectively – on March 4, 2019, that named her as the woman shown in Panthers star Tyrone May’s infamous sex tape.

“The bird in the Tyrone May video is Mark Geyer’s daughter. Happy days at Penrith,” one of the memes read. “This is getting spicy,” said the caption, complete with a flame emoji and photo of Ms Geyer above a screenshot from the sex tape.

Fouad Ghosn, the western Sydney man accused of owning the offending pages, denied posting the material and claimed in court he had never used social media in his life.

After a week-long defamation trial before the District Court, a four-man jury found against him in the case of NRL Memes.

Montana Geyer was wrongly implicated in an NRL scandal. Picture: NCA NewsWire / James GourleySource:News Corp Australia

However, it ruled in his favour in regards to the almost identical NRL Quality Memes post.

Ms Geyer told the court on Tuesday the posts left her feeling “completely broken” and paranoid about leaving the house.

The jury ruled she was defamed on six grounds, including that she was intimately involved in Mr May’s sex scandal, that she was the woman in the video and that she was an “indecent and lewd person” who allowed Mr May to film her during sex for the purpose of sharing with others.

Ms Geyer is seeking damages over the saga.

In his closing address, Mr Ghosn’s barrister Jonathan Cohen told the jury there was a “concerted campaign” to make it appear his client was behind the posts for reasons he could not explain.

Fouad Ghosn claimed he had never use social media before.Source:Supplied

Mr Ghosn wore an all-black suit and mask to court throughout the trial. Picture: NCA NewsWire / James GourleySource:News Corp Australia

“We don’t really know why … somebody would want to link the defendant to these particular memes,” he said.

Mr Cohen said it was a “mystery” how a photo of Ms Geyer’s statement of claim came to be posted by NRL Memes after it was hand-delivered to Mr Ghosn’s house on May 23, 2019. “Clearly someone got their hands on it,” he said.

He said Ms Geyer’s lawyers had not proven his client had anything to do with the meme pages and went as far as to call screenshots of NRL Memes posts tendered as evidence in court “highly suspicious”.

Mark Geyer gave evidence before the court that the posts made him ‘really angry’. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Joel CarrettSource:News Corp Australia

That drew a rebuke from Judge Judith Gibson who told the jury that the documents should be presumed as genuine, as the court had robust tests in place and their authenticity was not challenged during the trial.

Roger Rasmussen, Ms Geyer’s barrister, said Mr Cohen’s claim was “deliberately intended to hide the defendant’s involvement in this case because he knows he published a statement of claim on that website … and he cannot explain it.”

Mr Ghosn was also unable to explain under cross-examination why a photo of 2GB’s Ray Hadley – complete with a disparaging caption – appeared on the page soon after Mr Hadley had “outed” him as the NRL Memes page owner on the radio.

The memes implicated Ms Geyer in Penrith player Tyrone May’s sex tape scandal. Picture: AAP Image/Peter RaeSource:AAP

On Thursday Mr Rasmussen repeatedly asked Mr Ghosn, 24, if he was “lying” in his evidence about never having used social media.

The journalism graduate denied that accusation and told the court he didn’t use platforms such as Facebook and Instagram because he did not “believe in it”.

Mr Rasmussen said in his closing address that claim was “beggaring belief”, and Mr Ghosn’s assertion a since-deleted Facebook profile bearing his name and photo was not his should not be trusted.

“It is more than the balance of probabilities that Mr Ghosn published both of those memes,” he said.

“As you heard from every single witness, everybody at that time was talking about the Tyrone May sex scandal and the videos.”

Everyone also knew his client was Mr Geyer’s daughter, Mr Rasmussen told the jury.

The matter will return to court next Friday, November 20, for a damages hearing.

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