August 8, 2022

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A woman sued by a former Super Smash Bros. player and streamer for allegedly damaging...

A woman sued by a former Super Smash Bros. player and streamer for allegedly damaging his career with false social media statements has defended her writings in a new sworn declaration offered in support of her motion to dismiss the case on free-speech grounds.
Gonzalo Barrios, known professionally as ZeRo, brought the suit on Nov. 19 in Los Angeles Superior Court against Jacqueline Choe, alleging defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress. He seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.
But Choe’s lawyers state in their court papers arguing in favor of dismissal of the suit that ZeRo filed the case “to silence and punish Choe for speaking up about Barrios’ sexual misconduct with minors. Choe’s statements fall squarely within the ambit of constitutionally protected speech.”

A hearing on the dismissal motion is scheduled Feb. 18.
The Chilean-born ZeRo, 26, was considered the best Super Smash Bros. for Wii U player in the world throughout his career, with a record-breaking 56 consecutive tournament wins in the game from November 2014 to October 2015.
According to his suit, Choe, now 23, in July 2020 drafted a document that was published and circulated throughout numerous social media outlets, including Dot Esports, Kotaku, Dexerto and ESPN. The document included multiple falsehoods and “outright defamatory claims” against ZeRo and others that caused the termination of his Twitch account and his partnership with the organizations Tempo Storm and Facebook Gaming, the suit alleges.

In one allegedly defamatory tweet, Choe falsely said that ZeRo started dating his girlfriend when she was 15 and ZeRo was 20, the suit states. Accusing persons in the gaming industry of having inappropriate contact with minors is harmful to them in their profession, the suit states.
In another allegedly defamatory posting, Choe falsely accused ZeRo of “consistent physical abuse” of his girlfriend, according to the suit.
In her declaration, Choe says she met ZeRo when she was a minor in 2014 and that she lived with him and others in a Los Angeles home called the Sky House, including one ex-gamer about a decade older than her who engaged her in a sexually abusive relationship.

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“When I first moved in, almost all of the people living in the Sky House were some of the top Smash players in the world and ZeRro was no exception,” Choe says, “At the time, ZeRo was considered one of the best Smash players in the world.”
Almost immediately, Choe says, she learned that ZeRo, an adult, had a girlfriend who was a minor.
” I didn’t make up my statements about ZeRo and (his girlfriend),” Choe says. “I was told that they had an inappropriate age gap and that she was being physically abused in their relationship, and these accounts rang true to me because of what I myself had experienced while living in the Sky House.”

Choe also posted on Twitter a false statement that ZeRo showed her explicit Craigslist ads of sex workers, the suit states.
But according to Choe, ZeRo often called her over to his computer to show her anime porn and ads for sex works that he found on Craigslist.
For example, I would be working on my art and ZeRo would say, `Jackie look, Jackie look,’ and I would turn over and he would be watching explicit footage of sex workers or hentai with the audio on and when I turned away, he would laugh maniacally. This happened repeatedly. He would also ask me for my opinions on the women he was watching. I felt disgusted and uncomfortable, but I was powerless to stop him.”

Choe says she was upset by a posting by ZeRo in which he said that reform is needed in the Smash Bros. community so that minors are protected.
“The sheer hypocrisy he exhibited while simultaneously receiving praise for his statements … was enough for me to come forward to discuss my own experience with him when I was a minor,” Choe says. “It was a time for justice and accountability and he exhibited none of that, and I felt that staying silent would allow him to pretend that he had never engaged in misconduct and would endanger other minors who looked up to him.”
Choe further says that despite being afraid to come forward, she consulted with her friends about whether it was the right thing to do.

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“In the end, I decided it was, and truly put my heart on the line standing up for what I believed in,” Choe says. “I knew it would cause absolute chaos and it did. My social media feed has never been more destructive and awful towards me. I would receive multiple death threats and people calling me all sorts of horrible, hateful things.”
In response, ZeRo posted a statement claiming that most of his interactions with Choe were “exchanging random jokes” and he suggested the inappropriate sexual images he allegedly showed her on his computer were actually viewed by her by accident, according to Choe.


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