Mignogna Deposition: Vic Mignogna Admits to Pulling Jamie Marchi's Hair, Denies it Was Sexual
posted on by Lynzee Loveridge
A transcript of voice actor Vic Mignogna's deposition from his ongoing lawsuit against Funimation, voice actresses Jamie Marchi and Monica Rial, and Rial's fiancee Ronald Toye reveals the actor's responses to questioning regarding a hair-pulling incident previously described by Marchi. Marchi publicly accused Mignogna in February of running his fingers through her hair, seizing her hair at the base of her scalp, and pulling her towards him followed by whispering a sexual comment in her ear.
The nearly 300-page deposition transcript includes Mignogna's version of the incident. Rial and Toye's lawyer Sean Lemoine asked Mignogna, "So what was exactly mischaracterized or took out of context [regarding Marchi's public accusation]?" Mignogna states that Marchi's version is a micharacterization of what took place in Funimation's lobby. According to Mignogna, Marchi had changed her haircut or style and he complimented her repeatedly before walking to her, flipping her hair with his hand a few times, putting his hand "up in the bottom of it" and taking hold of it while complimenting her.
"It was not painful, it was not hurtful, it was not sexual, and it happened at least four or five years ago, maybe longer," Mignogna said. He stated he was "astounded" by the account she posted online because he had seen Marchi in the Funimation lobby approximately 7 to 10 days prior and recalled that encounter as positive.
"She and I have had, as far as I've known, a very casual, friendly relationship for many, many years," Mignogna said.
He denied that he said anything sexual in Marchi's ear at the time of the incident. During later questioning by Marchi's lawyer Sam Johnson, Mignogna reiterated that he did not recall whether he said anything in Marchi's ear but if he did, he denied it was sexual.
"If I did, it was literally something about, 'ooh, I love your hair,' or, 'love it, it's awesome.' You know, it was that kind of a thing," Mignogna told Johnson.
Mignogna stated that Marchi is not the only woman whose hair he has taken hold of while noting that he disliked the term "pulling" to describe the act.
Johnson followed up Lemoine's questioning about the incident further to ask Mignogna if it was possible he was unaware his action involving her hair may have caused Marchi harm that day.
"I had no indication when it happened or in the years that followed that we've been friends and interacted that...that there was anything offensive or painful about it. In my mind, my recollection, it was very casual, playful interaction as happens all the time in the hallways of Funimation," he said. Mignogna agreed that Marchi could have perceived the incident differently.
Mignogna stated that he was not aware of any conventions canceling his appearances based on Marchi, Rial, Toye, or Funimation persuading the events to do so. He offered that the public statements by Marchi and Rial influenced event organizers' decisions.
"They [event staff] didn't call me and say, 'Jamie Lynn Marchi and Monica Rial', you know what I mean, 'contacted us', but they did tell me that it was the public comments by the voice actors that led them to ultimately cancel me," Mignogna said. He confirmed that Marchi's name was not brought up by Sony's Tammi Denbow during Funimation's internal investigation.
Marchi filed a motion dismiss the the case based on Texas Citizen's Participation Act (TCPA) on July 19. The act is the state of Texas's law to protect individuals from Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP) lawsuits. A "SLAPP suit" is a lawsuit designed to hinder individual(s) from speaking freely, but is otherwise without merit, under threat of the suit itself or its potential financial cost. According to TexasLawHelp.org: "The lawsuit can be filed by the plaintiff on different grounds (reasons) like libel or tortious interference, but the point of a SLAPP suit is to silence the defendant regardless of whether the lawsuit has merit."
The Motion to Dismiss filed on July 19 cites Mignogna's deposition as evidence that the lawsuit is without merit. Johnson argues that Mignogna is a public figure, Marchi's statements are protected by the first amendment, and Mignogna's deposition statements "cannot put forth clear and specific evidence of each element of each of his claims against Jamie." Johnson has asked the court to dismiss allegations that Marchi's statements and actions fall under tortious interference with existing contracts, defamation, tortious interference with prospective relations, and civil conspiracy.
If the court dismisses the case under the TCPA, Marchi could be awarded the cost of her attorney fees. Marchi is also seeking financial sanctions against Mignogna "in order to deter other, similar actions where attempts are made to intimidate brave victims into silence where they have taken the forthright step of speaking out about what happened to them."
Mignogna filed the lawsuit against Funimation and the other defendants on April 18. In the lawsuit, Mignogna claims defamation, interference in existing contracts and prospective business relations, and civil conspiracy over the defendants' Twitter posts and Funimation's investigation against Mignogna for alleged sexual harassment.
Mignogna is seeking "monetary relief over $1,000,000.00" in part due to Funimation no longer contracting him for future productions, as well as conventions canceling his appearances. Mignogna and his lawyer are also seeking "judgment against the Defendants for actual, consequential and punitive damages according to the claims ... in amounts to be determined on final hearing, pre- and post-judgment interest at the highest rate permitted by law, and costs of court" in addition to "such other and further relief to which he may be justly or equitably entitled" and "general relief."
Mignogna is represented by Ty Beard of Beard Harris Bullock Hughes in Tyler, Texas.
Mignogna has been accused by a number of con attendees of kissing and embracing them without consent over the course of his career, with some allegations dating back to 2008. These allegations spread on social media earlier this year. Fellow voice actors have publicly issued anecdotes of their personal experiences with Mignogna or support for those speaking out via social media.
Rooster Teeth has replaced Mignogna in the cast of RWBY. Many of Mignogna's convention appearances have been canceled.
Mignogna issued an apology at the Bak-Anime event in early February, and posted a public statement later that month. On February 21, Mignogna posted another statement on Twitter that read, "I have now very reluctantly retained a law firm as my last and only recourse to attempt to salvage my reputation and my 20-year career in this industry."
Source: re:Search Texas
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