By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
The sisters and widow of a Wyoming Marine killed in the line of duty in August are suing actor Alec Baldwin for defamation, accusing him of making false allegations on his Instagram account about their involvement in the invasion of the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
Roice and Cheyenne McCollum, the sisters of Lance Cpl. Rylee McCollum, and his widow Jiennah McCollum are asking for damages of at least $25 million in the lawsuit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Wyoming.
According to the lawsuit, Baldwin first contacted the McCollum family in August after Rylee McCollum was killed in the line of duty in Afghanistan. Baldwin reached out to Roice McCollum, Rylee’s older sister, and sent her a check for $5,000 for Jiennah McCollum and her child. The check was “a tribute to a fallen soldier,” Baldwin told Roice.
The court documents state that on Jan. 3, Roice posted a photo on her Instagram page that she took on Jan. 6, 2021, showing a crowd of demonstrators at the Washington Monument. Roice posted the photo, the lawsuit said, in anticipation of the 1-year anniversary of the invasion of the U.S. Capitol.
While Roice attended a demonstration in Washington, D.C., in support of former President Donald Trump on Jan. 6, 2021, she was not involved in the riot and while she was later interviewed by the FBI, she was never accused of or charged with a crime.
Baldwin commented on Roice’s posting, asking, “Are you the same woman I sent the $ for your sister’s husband who was killed during the Afghanistan exit?”
Upon confirmation that she was the sister of Rylee McCollum, Baldwin sent private messages Roice and accused her of being an insurrectionist.
“When I sent the $ for your late brother, out of real respect for his service to this country, I didn’t know you were a January 6th rioter,” Baldwin wrote in one message.
Roice responded by telling the actor that protesting was legal in the United States and that she had already spoken with the FBI, but he persisted, according to the lawsuit.
“Your activities resulted in the unlawful destruction of government property, the death of a law enforcement officer, an assault on the certification of the presidential election. I reposted your photo. Good luck,” Baldwin wrote back.
Baldwin later claimed on social media that he was trying to point out irony in his reposting of her phot, by juxtaposing her brother’s sacrifice for the country with Roice being an “insurrectionist.”
Baldwin reposted Roice’s photo on his own Instagram account, which has 2.4 million followers, discussing the Capitol attack and mentioning Roice’s involvement in the protest on Jan. 6, 2021.
Within 20 minutes of his post, Roice began to receive hostile, aggressive and hateful messages from Baldwin’s followers, the lawsuit said.
One message said “Get raped and die, you worthless [expletive]. Your brother got what he deserved.” Roice forwarded this message on to Baldwin, sarcastically thanking him for the post.
Baldwin ultimately followed the person who sent the message on Instagram. He also chimed in on the feed, calling Roice an insurrectionist and claiming she participated in the riot.
He also misidentified Jiennah as an insurrectionist in one Instagram comment, although she was not in Washington D.C. on Jan. 6, 2021. People began sending hateful and threatening messages Jiennah and Cheyenne McCollum, Rylee’s eldest sister.
Other messages called on Baldwin to get a refund of his money and comparing the McCollum family to ISIS and Nazis,
Baldwin did nothing to stop his followers from contacting the family, the lawsuit said.
“Baldwin’s conduct was negligent and reckless as he should have known that making the allegations he did against Plaintiffs to his millions of followers would cause Plaintiffs harm,” the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit claims the three women have suffered from headaches, nausea, loss of sleep, severe anxiety, mental distress and fear for their lives due to Baldwin’s post.
The lawsuit seeks damages for all three women on allegations of defamation, invasion of privacy, negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress.