Meet the new boss … same as the old boss?

Retraction and Clarification

On May 19, 2011, HumaneWatch Info published a blog entry about Will Coggin, a Berman and Company employee. The post described Coggin’s involvement in a series of controversies during his college days at the College of William and Mary.

Unfortunately, we got many of the details wrong, unintentionally confusing the facts of two separate controversies, as well as the nature of Coggin’s involvement in each.

The staff of HumaneWatch Info prides itself on honesty and accuracy, and we sincerely regret any confusion resulting from the erroneous statements. We have removed the erroneous blog post and offer the following collection of third-party reports in its stead. We invite you to read through the facts of these cases and to evaluate the context, extent and propriety of Coggin’s involvement in these scandals for yourself.

We close with a final note regarding Richard Berman. Mr. Berman — through his attorneys — objects to our opinion that he is a “liar for hire”. This does not change our view of his ethics in the slightest. However, we feel compelled to clarify that the misleading statements we alluded to were in fact issued through his PR firm and its many front groups, and we cannot attribute them to Mr. Berman directly. We therefore withdraw our characterization of him as a liar, and clarify that he is the head of an empire of more than 100 industry-funded front groups and campaigns based on deception and dishonesty.

We trust this will soothe Mr. Berman’s wounded ego, and allow him to continue waging war against the health of Americans and the welfare of animals everywhere.

Sons of Liberty Remorseful about Game, but Pleased with Dialogue
Last week the Sons of Liberty saga continued in a series of meetings with students, the Student Assembly and the administration. The spillover stemmed from the 8 November anti-affirmative action bake sale at which the Sons of Liberty, an official student organization, sold cookies and brownies in groups of four for $1 for whites, $0.75 for Asians, $0.50 for African Americans and Hispanics and $0.25 for Native Americans, while playing a game called “Ghettopoly,” viewed by many to be racist and offensive.
Bake Sale Reignites Controversy
“I guess by the technical, legal definition we did discriminate,” Coggin said.
Affirmative action policies on stage at University Center
Will Coggin (l), president and co-founder of the Sons of Liberty, and Adam McCool offer treats for purchase at race-weighted prices.

Rape Charges Dropped In W&m Assault Case
A frat party rape case that sparked a study of alcohol use at the College of William and Mary last fall ended Wednesday when all the sexual assault charges were dropped, and the man accused of the rape pleaded guilty to two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
Woman files $800,000 defamation lawsuit against student newspaper
A student newspaper is being sued for $800,000 on allegations that the paper published defamatory statements last year about a rape victim. […]Remnant editor-in-chief Will Coggin did not return calls for comment, but he told the Daily Press Thursday afternoon that the newspaper staff would review the complaint today. ”We feel like we’ve done everything right,” Coggin said in the article. ”We’re prepared to defend ourselves.” The Remnant ran into trouble in February when newspaper staff posted fliers around campus naming another alleged rape victim.
Student Publication Sued
The Remnant wrote, “[P]olice are speculating that like many other wannabe victims and con artists, [Desiree Nall, president of the Brevard Chapter of the National Organization for Women] was trying to draw attention to an issue she thought was important,” in the story in question from the issues “Nasty, Brutish, and Short” section. The story continues, “Fortunately, in this case, a specific persons name was not dragged through the mud, unlike the case of Kenneth Ian Lang, the only real victim from last years fiasco. The Remnant is grateful that this fraud is being charged and urges the same for the girl who lied last year.”
Woman Sues W&m Newspaper, Staff
Remnant Editor in Chief Will Coggin said Thursday afternoon that he was unaware of the lawsuit. He could not be reached Friday. “We feel like we’ve done everything right,” Coggin said Thursday. “We’re prepared to defend ourselves.” […]The Daily Press is withholding the woman’s name because the newspaper generally does not identify people who say they have been raped.
Circuit Court for Williamsburg/James City County The Remnant, Kevin DeAnna, Marcus Epstein, Will Coggin, Liz Kveselis, George McCallister, Defendants.

Assault Gets Even Uglier: Controversy escalates over sexual violence on campus.
On February 15, students saw more flyers. This time, however, the flyers announced a news exclusive by The Remnant about developments in the now infamous rape case. Vague new sources reportedly revealed inconsistencies in the accuser’s version of events. A web link to a more detailed online article appeared at the bottom of the flyer. “Until now, students knew precious little about the specifics of what occurred that night. Statements by some of the involved parties, obtained by The Remnant, specify some of the critical facts that caused the charges against [the accused] to be dropped,” Coggin stated in a press release on February 15. Defending the continued coverage, he said, “The student body needs to be kept informed on this crucial matter.” […]Neither the flyer nor website coverage included the source of the so-called “breaking news.” In fact, the source calling into question the events was the civil lawsuit filed by the accused. The Remnant report omitted this important fact, but included unnecessary details about the accuser, including her home address.
Employee wrong to tear down student newspaper fliers, university says
A newspaper editor used an early-morning stakeout to catch a university employee last week in the act of tearing down fliers posted by newspaper staff that named an alleged rape victim. Will Coggin, editor of The Remnant, a student newspaper at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va., waited for more than two hours in the chilly morning air before spying a university employee who removed several fliers from a communal posting board at about 7 a.m. Coggin said when he ran up to the employee and confronted him about tearing down the fliers, the man said he had been instructed to remove “foul material.” Coggin then followed the employee, snapping photos with his digital camera as the man threw away a handful of fliers and retreated to a campus facilities building. He said after he followed the man to his office, peppering him with questions, the employee threatened to have him arrested if he did not leave the premises.
Judge Dismisses Defamation Suit Against W&m Rape Accuser
A dismissal order signed by Charles City County Judge Thomas Hoover on Sept. 5 states that the case was dismissed without prejudice “upon agreement of the parties.” The suit stems from an Oct. 28, 2005, incident at an off-campus sorority party hosted by John Gerdelman, a member of the university’s Board of Visitors. A 20-year-old female student accused then-senior Patrick Decker of raping her, but the charges were dropped Jan. 4, after prosecutors found conflicting and insufficient evidence to support a charge.


Meet a CCF Minion
While in college, Coggin was also the editor of a student libertarian newspaper, The Remnant. A woman who reported that she had been raped sued Coggin and the paper for “embarrassment, humiliation and mental suffering” following articles that he published about her implying that she was lying.
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