Election Worker Tells Jury: ‘Giuliani Just Messed Me Up’

Ruby Freeman, a former Georgia election worker, sat in a federal courtroom on Wednesday and told a jury: “Giuliani just messed me up, you know.”

She was referring to Rudolph W. Giuliani, who was sitting a few feet from her, as she described how her life has been upended since Dec. 3, 2020. That was the date Mr. Giuliani, then the personal lawyer to President Donald J. Trump, directed his millions of social media followers to watch a video of two election workers in Fulton County, Ga., asserting without any basis that they were cheating Mr. Trump as they counted votes on Election Day.

The workers were Ms. Freeman and her daughter, Shaye Moss.

Ms. Freeman, who is Black, recounted what followed: a torrent of threats, accusations and racism; messages from people who said she should be hanged for treason, or lynched; people who fantasized about hearing the sound of her neck snap.

They found her at her home. They sent messages to her business email and social media accounts. They called her phone so much that it crashed, she said.

The harassment got so bad that the F.B.I. told Ms. Freeman she was not safe in the home where she had lived for years. She stayed with a friend until she felt she put that friend at risk after law enforcement officials told her they had arrested someone who had her name on a death list.

Ms. Freeman’s name had become a rallying cry across conservative news outlets, embodying a conspiracy theory that Trump supporters embraced as they tried to keep him in office.

“This all started with one tweet,” Ms. Freeman said on Wednesday, the third day of a trial to determine what compensation she and Ms. Moss deserve from Mr. Giuliani. Judge Beryl A. Howell previously ruled that Mr. Giuliani spread lies about them, intentionally inflicted emotional distress on them and engaged in a conspiracy with others as he led the efforts to keep Mr. Trump in office.

Ashlee Humphreys, a professor at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism who testified as an expert witness for the plaintiffs, told the jury that the price tag for repairing the damage done to their reputations would be between $17.4 million and $47.4 million.

Mr. Giuliani’s lawyer, Joseph Sibley IV, has said that size of damage award would be the civil equivalent of the death penalty — a description Judge Howellcalled “hyperbolic.”

Even though Georgia officials quickly dismissed the accusations against the two women, and a yearslong investigation cleared them of wrongdoing, Ms. Freeman and Ms. Moss said they continue to suffer the consequences.

Ms. Freeman said she could no longer use her name, making it difficult when she bought a new house and had to register for utilities. She wears a mask and sunglasses when she is in public.

“Sometimes I don’t know who I am,” she said. “What is my name today?”

After she purchased her new home, Ms. Freeman had security cameras installed throughout. She said the neighbors are friendly, but she keeps to herself to avoid introductions.

“My life is just messed up,” she said as her testimony came to an end. “It’s just really messed up, all because somebody put me on blast, just tweet my name to their millions of followers.”

Mr. Sibley declined to cross-examine Ms. Freeman. Mr. Giuliani’s defense will begin on Thursday, when he is expected to testify.

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