Georgia election worker tearfully describes fleeing her home after Giuliani's false claims of fraud
A former Georgia election worker suing Rudy Giuliani over false claims he spread about her and her daughter in 2020 cried on the witness stand on Wednesday as she described fleeing her home after she endured racist threats and strangers banging on her door.
Ruby Freeman's online boutique was flooded with threatening messages, including several that mentioned lynching, after Giuliani tweeted a video of her counting votes as a temporary election worker while he pushed Donald Trump's baseless claims of fraud, Freeman told jurors. Freeman, 64, said she had to leave her home in January 2021, after people came with bullhorns and the FBI told her she wasn’t safe.
“I took it as though they were going to hang me with their ropes on my street,” Freeman testified about the threats on the third day of the trial in Washington's federal courthouse. She added: “I was scared. I didn’t know if they were coming to kill me."
Lawyers for Freeman and her daughter, Wandrea “Shaye” Moss, rested their case after Freeman's testimony. Giuliani is expected to testify in his defense, though U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell has barred him from attempting to argue his debunked claims.
Freeman eventually had to sell her home, she told jurors. She said she lived out of her car for a time, as the relentless drumbeat of harassment made friends and fellow church members afraid to be associated with her. Now, she stays holed up inside and avoids introducing herself to neighbors out of fear her name will be recognized, she said.
“It’s so scary, any time I go somewhere, if I have to use my name,” she said, gasping through her tears to get her words out. “I miss my old neighborhood because I was me, I could introduce myself. Now I don’t have a name, really.”
The testimony came a day after her daughter, Moss, took the witness stand herself and detailed the nightmares, panic attacks and depression brought on by an onslaught of threatening and racist messages that turned her life upside down and forced her from a job she loves.
They spoke as part of a trial to determine how much Giuliani will have to pay the two women for spreading conspiracy theories that they rigged the state’s 2020 election results. A judge has already determined he is liable for defamation and Giuliani has acknowledged in court that he made public comments falsely claiming Freeman and Moss committed fraud while counting ballots.
An expert for the plaintiffs testified Wednesday that Giuliani’s defamatory statements, which were also spread by Trump and his campaign, were viewed up to 56 million times by people who were sympathetic to them. Northwestern University professor Ashlee Humphreys, who also testified in the defamation case filed against Trump by writer E. Jean Carroll, said emotionally damaging statements were seen hundreds of millions of times.
The cost of repairing their reputations alone could be as high as $47 million, Humphreys said. They are also seeking emotional and punitive damages, in the tens of millions of dollars.
Giuliani’s lawyer grilled Humphreys on her methodology, and sought to raise questions about how much responsibility the former mayor should personally bear for the spread of conspiracy theories.
Giuliani has continued to make unfounded allegations against the women and insisted outside the federal courthouse Monday that his claims about the women were true.
As the defamation damagers trial unfolds, Giuliani is also preparing to defend himself against criminal charges in a separate case in Georgia. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges accusing him and others of scheming to overturn Donald Trump’s 2020 election loss in the state and denied any wrongdoing.