Idaho professor sues TikTok creator for accusing her of killing 4 university students
Professor Rebecca Scofield has filed a lawsuit against Ashley Guillard, who claimed the professor ordered the students' Nov. 13 slayings.
A creator on TikTok is being sued by a beleaguered University of Idaho professor for claiming she killed four students last month in a still-unsolved crime.
NBC News reported that Rebecca Scofield, who chairs the U of I history department, filed the federal lawsuit in Idaho District Court on Wednesday. She accused Ashley Guillard of causing her significant emotional distress and damaging her reputation by falsely claiming in assertions on TikTok, the social video-sharing platform, that the professor had conspired with another U of I student to plan the Nov. 13 stabbing deaths of Madison Mogen and Kaylee Goncalves, who were 21, and Xana Kernodle and Ethan Chapin, both 20, in Moscow, Idaho.
According to the lawsuit, Guillard claims to use tarot cards and other readings to solve high-profile killings. The videos in which she makes the claims against Scofield started appearing on TikTok on Nov. 24 and have since received millions of views.
“Professor Scofield has never met Guillard,” the suit says, according to NBC. “She does not know her. She does not know why Guillard picked her to repeatedly falsely accuse of ordering the tragic murders and being involved with one of the victims. Professor Scofield does know that she has been harmed by the false TikToks and false statements.”
The lawsuit claims Guillard falsely claimed in more than 20 recordings that Scofield had an intimate relationship with one of the students and ordered the killings to hide the relationship.
After a lawyer representing Scofield sent her a cease and desist order on Nov. 29, Guillard — who reaffirmed her claims against Scofield in an email to NBC — continued to broadcast what the lawsuit claims are defamatory videos even after a lawyer representing Scofield sent her a cease and desist order on Nov. 29.
Guillard eventually received a second cease and desist letter, displaying the document in a TikTok video on Dec. 8. She said Scofield would have to submit actual “legal documents in a federal court” requesting she remove the videos.
According to the lawsuit, Scofield, who started working at the University of Idaho in 2016, had never interacted with any of the victims, nor had they ever taken a class from her. She and her husband were allegedly visiting friends in Portland, Oregon, when an unknown perpetrator killed the students on Nov. 13.
The weapon used in the slayings — which Moscow Police have indicated they believe to be an edged weapon like a knife — has not been located, and no suspects have been named in the case.
Scofield is concerned that Guillard’s accusations, now seen by scores of people on TikTok, would incite someone to attack her or her loved ones, the lawsuit claims. The educator just had a security system built at her home.
“The statements made about Professor Scofield are false, plain and simple,” an attorney representing Scofield told NBC. “What’s even worse is that these untrue statements create safety issues for the professor and her family. They also further compound the trauma that the families of the victims are experiencing and undermine law enforcement efforts to find the people responsible in order to provide answers to the families and the public.”
The Moscow Police Department criticized the spread of misinformation in a previous update on the homicides’ case. The department’s website has a “rumor control” section under frequently asked questions regarding the matter on its website.
“There is speculation, without factual backing, stoking community fears and spreading false facts,” according to the department, “We encourage referencing official releases for accurate information and updated progress.”
TheGrio is FREE on your TV via Apple TV, Amazon Fire, Roku and Android TV. Also, please download theGrio mobile apps today!