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US man not jailed despite incomplete Facebook apology to wife

Melbourne, Tue, 20 Mar 2012 ANI

Melbourne, Mar 20 (ANI): An American man, who made comments about his estranged wife on his Facebook page and was threatened with jail unless he posted daily apologies for a month, won't be locked up even though he stopped posting the apology before the stipulated period.


Mark Byron, 37, agreed to begin posting the apology last month to avoid jail but later said the ruling violated his freedom of speech.


He stopped posting the apology after 26 days, but Judge Jon Sieve, of Hamilton County Domestic Relations Court, determined that he had posted it long enough, and Byron wasn't jailed.


Byron, of Cincinnati, Ohio, said afterward that he was relieved not to be in jail, "but I was prepared to go to defend my free speech rights."


Byron's attorney, Becky Ford, said she had filed a notice of appeal in a state court.


"We believe that by scripting and saying what he had to post on Facebook, the court violated his rights to free speech," the Herald Sun quoted Ford as saying.


"The First Amendment not only protects your right to speak, but it also protects your ability to remain silent," she said.


According to the ruling, Byron had posted comments on his page in November, saying in part: "If you are an evil, vindictive woman who wants to ruin your husband's life and take your son's father away from him completely - all you need to do is say you're scared of your husband or domestic partner and they'll take him away."


The Byrons have been involved in ongoing divorce and child custody proceedings.


Byron has said his wife and the court have prevented him from seeing his young son many times, though, the court maintains he is allowed to see him on a twice-weekly basis. (ANI)


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