An Ohio man has been ordered by the court to post an apology to his ex-wife on Facebook after a judge ruled he violated a court order by venting his frustrations over a custody battle on the popular social networking site.
Cincinnati-based Photographer Mark Byron was ordered to post a court-approved apology for 30 consecutive days on his Facebook wall, or spend 60 days in jail, after he was found guilty of violating a protection order that said he could not physically, mentally, or emotionally abuse his ex-wife.
The case has stirred controversy over freedom of speech rights after Byron said he turned to Facebook to let out his frustrations over the bitter custody fight involving his young son. He said it was no different then venting to a friend over a bottle of beer, and he feels he did nothing wrong.
"What I did was just tell people how it's been for me for this past year. It's been really hard for me, it's been a really emotionally draining year, knowing I have this newborn son that’s growing up and hitting major milestones of his life and I’m missing all of them," Byron told ABC News.
The Facebook post in question read: "If you are an evil, vindictive woman who wants to ruin your husband's life and take your son's father away from him completely -- all you need to do is say you're scared of your husband or domestic partner and they'll take him away!"
Byron says he believes the comment he made on Facebook was true. He feels the resulting responses posted by his friends were most upsetting to his ex-wife and to the magistrate, who based his decision on the "colorful metaphors' used to describe the woman in the replies.
According to court documents, Elizabeth Byron believed her husband’s Facebook rant violated the court order, and made her “afraid, reports Cincinnati.com.
Domestic Relations Magistrate Paul Meyers found Byron in contempt and gave him the option to post the apology for 30 consecutive days, or be jailed for two months. He was also ordered to pay $1,156 in back child support and his ex-wife's lawyers' fees, reports the LA Times.
Byron's attorney Elizabeth "Becky" Ford said, "In a million years, I didn't think he'd be found in contempt. He did nothing but vent. She didn't like what he had to say. That's what this boils down to."