Aaron Ochs is the author of “Defamers: How Fake News Terrorized a Community & Those Who Dared to Fight It,” a nonfiction uncovering the defamatory, deceptive and criminal practices of online tabloid CalCoastNews.

August 2018, I noticed something peculiar. One of my friends brought to my attention strange comments allegedly posted by so-called local “activist” Kevin P. Rice. “Rice” wrote he was thankful every day his unspecified conviction went through a way before Megan’s Law passed. Megan’s Law is a United States law requiring law enforcement authorities to make information available to the public about registered sex offenders. The law was named after a seven-year-old who was raped and murdered by a sex offender. I was skeptical. No one would readily brag about being convicted for a sex offense. Given comments this “Rice” character made, I asked the question on my Facebook page, “Did he just admit to sexually assaulting a minor and sympathize with a rapist on SLO Tribune’s Facebook page?”

When I realized the account had no profile information filled out — except for a profile photo of his face — and saw the real Rice issue a denial, I answered, “No.” Rice had no conviction in his record. He was being impersonated.

Turned out I was right. On Sep. 3 this year, San Luis Obispo County District Attorney Dan Dow announced that felony charges would be filed against 36-year-old David William Platek for impersonating Rice on Facebook and publishing false statements intended to damage Rice’s reputation. Objectively speaking, yes, Rice was the victim of online impersonation and the comments were false. The wheels of justice slowly turn.

Then I was surprised to read on a certain “news” site that I may or may not be an accessory to the felony.

“He was intentionally trying to diminish my reputation,” Rice told CalCoastNews’ Karen Velie. Sounds about right. But then he added, “It was effective; Aaron Ochs posted on his page that I admitted to having sex with a minor.”

So… about that.

Screenshot of SLO Truth Facebook page

I know the word “no” might be hard for certain people to understand, so I elaborated further and explained how Rice was impersonated. In fact, before the District Attorney issued his press release announcing felony charges for the alleged impersonator, I was the only media entity that wrote about him being impersonated. At no point did Rice contact me about how my comment about him being impersonated hurt his reputation.

“Almost immediately after Platek posted on the SLO Tribune, Ochs, a local troll known for spreading misinformation, wrote on his Facebook page that Rice admitted to being a sex offender, Rice said,” wrote Velie.

Wait a second. Did I spread misinformation for writing that Rice was impersonated? Plot thickens.

I’m not sure how many “respected” journalists refer to someone they’ve personally harassed and threatened for five years as a “troll,” but the vindictiveness here doesn’t make the false claim any more accurate.

“For years, Ochs and several others have maligned Rice on social media and in the SLO Tribune comment section, attacking Rice and others who expose the missteps of a local group of Democratic public officials,” wrote Velie.

Velie thinks I’m part of the Illumanati, a group of lizard people that malign anyone who “exposes” Democratic public officials. But even more so, Velie just insinuated that I’m part of a conspiracy with the alleged impersonator to harm Rice’s reputation — perhaps as some part of nefarious plot to protect the left! The horror!

Jokes aside, I don’t take kindly to being implicated in an active criminal case, especially when I defended Rice: a man who literally impersonated a political campaign for someone he vigorously opposes and an organization founded by someone critical of off-roading at the Oceano Dunes. Oh, and he created a Facebook group that openly conspired to personally harass me because I’ve reported on his impersonations.

And believe me, Velie has falsely accused me of being a schizophrenic “paid shill” that once drove to her home on an imaginary orange motorcycle, discussed wanting to throw bleach in her daughter’s eyes and fleeing from the courthouse with bailiffs chasing after me. I’ve heard it all before, lived through it all before, but implicating me as an accessory to a felony during an active criminal proceeding without any evidence whatsoever? That’s a new low.

How mentally unstable does someone have to be to lose a libel lawsuit for $1.1 million only to libel so egregiously later that they pretend a clear “no” is a “yes”? Karen Velie is mentally unstable, dangerous and does not have the fitness to run a news site. And Kevin P. Rice is a pathological liar who wrongly believes his harassment of others is “activism.” Quote that.

Marketing entrepreneur and columnist from Morro Bay, California.

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