Story about student who masturbated in college classroom prompts libel threat against Hawaii university paper

A student at the University of Hawaii at Manoa recently threatened his school’s student newspaper, the Ka Leo O Hawaii (The Voice of Hawaii), with a libel lawsuit. The student, who recently posted risqué pictures of himself on his personal blog, along with a video of him masturbating on a desk, was concerned with some inaccuracies he found in the story and demanded a retraction or else he would sue for libel.

Among other things, the student wanted the paper to clarify that the he was only shown masturbating in one classroom, not “many,” Editor-in-Chief Mark Brislin wrote in an e-mail.

The photos were of the student in a Speedo, and the video shows him masturbating in a campus classroom, according to this article on the Web site of an ABC affiliate, KITV. The student also posted on his blog the names of buildings he was in while taking the pictures and video. The student could not be reached for comment, the article says, but he has defended his actions on his blog, saying he has “nothing to be ashamed of.”

While names are not mentioned in Campus Beat, a regular section of the newspaper, Brislin said, this entry identified the student’s blog, which contains identifying information. After receiving and printing letters to the editor regarding this issue, the paper issued what Brislin called a “voluntary apology.”

However, Breslin wrote, the paper then received word from the student requesting an apology be written for several points on which he thought he had been libeled. This included the paper referring to his behavior as “sexually deviant and psychotic,” according to the retraction.

To avoid the libel suit the student threatened, the paper published a “detailed apology/retraction.”