LeAnn Rimes Victim of ‘Merciless, Vitriolic’ Cyber-Bullies, Says Lawyer (EXCLUSIVE)
Before LeAnn Rimes packed her bags for a 30-day inpatient facility to combat anxiety and stress -- she was (and apparently still is) embroiled in a behind-the-scenes back and forth that appears to be draining her emotionally.
Celebrities -- with their entourages of handlers and long-held command of the mass media -- are not used to being bullied by the average public.
Rimes has accumulated a glut of offensive Tweets published about her, circulated among a circle of private individuals -- and is preparing papers with her legal team in efforts to obtain criminal and civil penalties.
What's going on here?
According to sources close to the case, the harassers are fans of Brandi Glanville, star of Bravo's Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. It is not known if the fans have a connection to Glanville, 40.
Before the Bravo TV show, Glanville was best known as the model ex-wife to Eddie Cibrian, and mother of their two kids.
Quick backstory: In 2009, Cibrian was photographed romantically involved with Rimes, whilst he he was still married to Glanville, on the set of a Lifetime film in 2009. Cibrian and Glanville later divorced in 2010 -- and Rimes married Cibrian in 2011.
Such was born Team Brandi vs. Team LeAnn.
The fans have Twitter handles such as @8Smileys, @eileenyover, @calimommy09, @bree_sees_bs -- or as one member referred to them, the "Brandi Bunch."
Some of the Tweeters, while having private accounts, announce themselves in 160-character Twitter bios as "Team Brandi."
There is the @blockedbyleann Twitter page -- which calls itself the "official #blockedbyleann fan club" tracking Rimes "imminent meltdown."
And, there is the Curious Case of LeAnn Rimes blog, with the URL address of "lunaticleannrimes."
The blog has paparazzi shots of Rimes and Cibrian -- and, most notably, a 20-minute phone recorded conversation, posted Aug. 19.
In the heated discussion between an apparent Twitter harasser and Rimes, the woman asserts several times she has not been set up or paid by Glanville. Rimes appears to call Glanville "vindictive as ****."
"Brandi has done plenty, and don't tell me that she hasn't," Rimes tells the woman.
Rimes also pleads, several times, for a stop to the correspondence: "It's not ok ... You take care of your family, who I'm sure you love very much, and I will take care of mine."
It is on this legal peg Rimes hangs her hat on. California law protects indivuals -- both public and private -- from being tape-recorded -- as the site has done.
California's wiretapping law is a "two-party consent" law. California makes it a crime to record or eavesdrop on any confidential communication, including a private conversation or telephone call, without the consent of all parties to the conversation.
As of Thursday, the recording is still up on the Internet.
According to a message on Twitter, the Curious Case of LeAnn Rimes site has received tens of thousands of page views since the recording was posted.
Or at least, that's what Rimes would have you believe -- the Tweeters say they are being unfairly targeted as private inviduals.
Rimes is the stalker, the Tweeters claim, alluding to the country star encouraging fans to harass her -- and to "stalking" the writer known as @8smileys, also known as Kimberly Smiley.
@8smileys 20K views! text me when u get up.
— Eileen Yover (@EileenYover) August 28, 2012
“I was blocked by LeAnn immediately after I started speaking to Brandi fans on Twitter,” Smiley told the Huffington Post in a recent interview.
Smiley said her job and her child’s school address were posted on Twitter by Rimes fans.
Although the trio of Glanville, Rimes, and Cibrian has appeared to cooperate around the children -- they have been snapped by paparazzi co-existing -- the Twitter malice has not gone away.
The group traded numerous Tweets throughout 2012 -- and some leading up to Rimes' 30th birthday, which was Aug. 28.
Including Rimes on some Tweets and not on others yet still pertaining to her, the group said they were releasing segments of the phone conversation on Twitter. One said it was a good "birthday gift for WeWe" [Rimes].
In one troubling Tweet, one of the group's members wrote #Snapped -- the hash tag for the Oxygen TV show Snapped in which cheated-on wives seek revenge and inflict physical harm on the women who take with up with their husbands.
Rimes is represented by L.A. attorney Larry Stein, who spoke to Celebuzz about the case after it emerged the singer had entered in-patient treatment to deal with emotional stress.
"There has been this cyber-bullying that has been going on for a considerable period of time," said Stein.
"Apparently, most of this started when LeAnn started dating Eddie Cibrian ... These women [on Twitter] have been merciless -- vitriolic in their attacks. Like most celebrities, Rimes didn't like it, but she hoped things would get better.
"They don't understand who she is or who she stands for."
@frankee1962 @fatima4maria oh, there's a whole group of us,She is straight up CRAZY!! And, we're all blocked of course! ha! @blockedbyleann — Bree(@bree_sees_BS) August 28, 2012
Stein asserts the women are likely engaged in an imaginary relationship with Rimes, who they don't know personally.
Apparently, the stress of the situation may have started to wear on Rimes -- in a big development this week.
On Wednesday, as Celebuzz confirmed, Rimes checked herself voluntarily into a 30-day inpatient facility to cope with what her, Marcel Periseau, calls "anxiety and stress."
Her rep explained, "While there will be speculation regarding her treatment, she is simply there to learn and develop coping mechanisms. While privacy isn't expected, it's certainly appreciated."
Rimes isn't the only well-known star to deal with the headaches -- and in some cases, real threats -- online. 2012 has exploded with claims of celebrities being bullied on Twitter.
The list of publicly declared bullied celebrities includes The View's Sherri Shepherd, Michael Jackson's 14-year-old daughter Paris Jackson, and Australia's Next Top Model judge Charlotte Dawson.
Glanville, also, has complained on Twitter of hostile folks she has encountered on the site.
Lesser known online personalities, such as teenage "Friday" singer Rebecca Black and "Leave Britney Alone" vlogger Christopher Cross, are among the most bullied "public figures" on the web, reportedly. Black -- who is a freshman in high school -- was threatened with death if her music was not removed from the web.
"THIS IS A THREAT & I’M PISSED," Shepherd tweeted in early June, over the course of numerous days of messages.
"This online bullying nonsense has got to stop… I need Twitter to step up. For someone to say I need to be raped… Really? You think I should be raped in a back alley? Let’s see if the police agree with you. I took a pic of your tweet. I’M FILING A POLICE REPORT. SO TELL ME NOW WHAT SHOULD BE DONE WITH ME."
@daclonekiller: somebody should drag u in a back alley and rape you ..I'M FILING A POLICE REPORT. SO TELL ME NOW WHAT SHOULD BE DONE W ME — Sherri Shepherd (@SherriEShepherd) June 6, 2012
It is an area of developing law, both in criminal circumstances and communications law.
As determined independently by states, lawyers are lobbying for more protections of individuals -- including public figures -- if a published incitement of harm leads to a third party action.
Numerous A-list celebrities have taken public stances against bullying -- including Justin Bieber, Meryl Streep, and Johnny Depp.
Initiatives such as No H8, promoted by Rimes, encourage tolerance.
Of course, it's hard not to take a position against a purely negative act.
Still, buoyed by the release of acclaimed documentary Bully this year, efforts have been made to highlight it with the accessibility of access to media publishing -- and how anyone can impact others with tough talk behind a computer keyboard.
What do you think of LeAnn's case? Is she being bullied? Should laws be passed to stop this?