Open Letter to Kenny Santucci and Evan Starkman

Kenny Santucci Evan Starkman

Dear Kenny and Evan,

You might want to consider a new legal strategy.

Having your lawyer, Usman Shaikh, Esq., send me a Cease and Desist Notice (see below) might not have been your best course of action.

Here’s why:

There’s this thing called the Streisand Effect,” and it basically means that the more you try to scrub the internet of information you don’t like, the more people talk about that thing you don’t like.

Case in point: The lawsuit Tonya Cooley brought against you, wherein she alleged that the two of you sexually assaulted her with a toothbrush while she lay unconscious.

As horrifying of a case as this was, was anyone even still talking about it? I wasn’t. I’m busy writing Book 3 in the The Gateway Trilogy. I said what I had to say last October in my post, MTV and Rape Culture. A post, which by the way, wasn’t even about you. It was about the culture of rape that permeates our society, wherein I referenced you tangentially to make a point–a point I stand by.

MTV didn’t seem concerned. I haven’t received any nasty-grams from them, and they’re the ones I was really taking to task over the whole disgusting affair. 

Being that this is America, where we enjoy freedom of speech, imagine my surprise when I received this warning shot from Mr. Shaikh, demanding that I either remove your names from my blog post or face legal consequences. In it, Mr. Shaikh alleges:

Ultimately, the facts revealed that her claims were without merit as to Mr. Santucci and Mr. Starkman. The court ordered Ms. Cooley to dismiss Mr. Santucci and Mr. Starkman from her lawsuit on April 18, 2012.

This was new information to me, and I found it intriguing. As part of my answer to the Cease and Desist, I wrote the following:

I am interested in the argument you make regarding the dismissal of Mr. Santucci and Mr. Starkman from the MTV/Viacom lawsuit. If you would like to provide additional information, (transcripts or the like) I would be happy to review it.

Imagine my further surprise when your attorney declined to do so, and once again demanded my compliance. Here I was, offering to review this new information and possibly revise my blog post, and your attorney essentially said no thanks, just do what I tell you.

Andy Sellars, attorney with the Online Media Legal Network,  pointed me to the LA Superior Court’s website, where I was able to access the docket sheet for Tonya Cooley vs. Bunim/Murray Productions et al. (You’re the “et al,” by the way.)

It turns out there are a few inconsistencies between what Mr. Shaikh alleges and what the court documents reflect.

The first would be the case number he cited. The actual case number is BC472360, not BC473260.

The second seems to be why the case against you (though not MTV/Viacom) was dismissed. It appears to my untrained eye, (and the highly trained eyes of Mr. Sellars and Paul Levy, both of whom have been kind enough to give me their informal opinion) that the decision had nothing to do with the merits of the case, but where you live. From the docket:

01/25/2012 Motion to Quash (TO QUASH SERVICE OF SUMMONS AND COMPLAINT FOR LACK OF PERSONAL JURISDICTION ) 04/18/2012 Order (RULING granting motion to quash summons for lack of personal jurisdiction )
Filed by Court
Filed by Attorney for Deft/Respnt
Filed by Attorney for Pltf/Petnr

Aside from suggesting you might want to rethink having your attorney harass me, (I use the term, ‘harass’ in the colloquial sense) I want to offer you a platform to state your case. I have scoured the internet looking for your public denial or even response to the allegations and have found nothing, which has always led me to believe you preferred not to comment. However, if you agree with your lawyer’s assertion that:

…their (Santucci and Starkman) strong denial of the allegations were never reported. As a result, they are left without a remedy to cure the stigma that the initial reported [sic] created.

I would be more than happy to provide the vehicle for you to do so. Just let me know, and we can set up a chat/Skype call/written interview.

You’ll understand, I’m sure, that if we meet in person I’ll need to have you frisked for toothbrushes.

Warm Regards,

Christina Garner 

P.S. You might want to speak with Mr. Shaikh about his Twitter usage.

Usman Shaikh tweet

For your reference:

August 19, 2013


Dear Ms. Garner:

This letter is a follow up to my written correspondence to you dated August 1, 2013, in which I referenced an article on your website containing incomplete and/or incorrect factual information relating to my clients Kenneth Santucci and Evan Starkman in connection with the lawsuit Tonya Cooley v. Bunim/Murray Productions, et al., County of Los Angeles, Superior Court, Central District, Case No. BC473260. 

In my previous correspondence, I outlined the facts and circumstances relating to the lawsuit, pointing out that my clients were never served with a complaint and were subsequently dismissed as parties without any liability or wrongdoing having been established.  Because my clients were left without a remedy to cure the irreparable harm caused by your article, I respectfully asked you to remove my clients’ names from the article within a reasonable period of time.

It has been almost three weeks since the previous correspondence, without any response or action from you.  Your dismissive attitude gives me pause to consider that you are unwilling to cooperate with me and want to continue to partake in the willful harm your article are causing to my clients’ respective reputations.

That said, please note that this letter is a final and stern warning.  I hereby request that you remove my clients’ names from the aforementioned article or remove it in its entirety within 72 hours from the date and time of this correspondence.  Failure to do so will cause us to promptly take appropriate legal action against you and any other appropriate parties.  Rest assured, my clients are prepared to vigorously defend their rights under causes of actions arising from the articles on your website and prove any and all damages caused by your actions.  

Should you have any questions regarding this letter, please have your counsel contact me.


Usman Shaikh


For an update to this post, please click here.