It’s your worst dating nightmare come true, something most people would want desperately to try to forget. But no, its unfolding all over again in a federal courthouse just blocks from the U.S. Capitol where the vivid and lurid details of a steamy sexual relationship between two senate staffers first came to light.
The nightmare for Robert Steinbuch began two years ago when he met Jessica Cutler, a staffer for Sen. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) They were immediately attracted to each other. Steinbuch, who worked for the Judiciary Committee, had thought he had met the girl of his dreams. But just two weeks into their sizzling relationship, he discovered his new lover was sleeping with at least five other men and keeping a Web diary — called Washingtonienne — of her bedroom antics — including Steinbuch’s — in X-rated detail. But Cutler identified Steinbuch only as “RS”.
Then, POW! The tell-all diary is posted in a blog called Wonkette, viewed widely, and becomes the talk of Washington. What do you do?
Well, Steinbuch, who is now an assistant law professor at the University of Arkansas, decided to file suit against Cutler in federal court, a move that has the judge in the case perplexed.
“I don’t know why we’re in federal court to begin with,” said Judge Paul Friedman at a hearing back in April. “I don’t know why this guy thought it was smart to file a lawsuit and lay out all of his private intimate details in an appendix to the complaint,” Friedman added.
That's right, the entire X-rated blog written by Cutler is now on file at court and available on the Internet once again, via the court’s electronic filing system.
Steinbuch contends that Cutler’s “outrageous actions, setting before anyone in the world with access to the Internet intimate and private facts regarding Plaintiff, constituted a gross invasion of his privacy, subjecting him to humiliation and anguish beyond that which any reasonable person should be expected to bear in a decent and civilized society.” He claims Cutler’s blog was an “intentional infliction of emotional distress.”
The 21-page complaint provides verbatim entries from Cutler’s blog.
Cutler, who was fired from DeWine’s office for using a Senate computer to write her sex escapades, turned her new Washington fame into a book deal (reportedly worth $300,000), which HBO has optioned and is in development with Sarah Jessica Parker’s production company to produce a film. She also signed a contract with Playboy and posed for the magazine. She contends the diary was posted on Wonkette without her knowledge or approval.
Cutler’s legal team contends the suit should be dismissed because Steinbuch was, “openly discussing his sexual relationship ... including details such as mutual spanking - with his co-workers on the United States Senate staff.” Friedman has allowed the suit to continue.
Steinbuch also decided to expand his civil complaint, adding Wonkette.com editor Ana Marie Cox (who first promoted Cutler’s “Washingtonienne” blog). It marks the first time Wonkette’s owner, gossip-blog giant Gawker Media, has been sued, albeit indirectly. Steinbuch is seeking $20 million — $10 million each for compensatory and punitive damages. He also has filed a separate suit against HBO, Disney and the publisher of Cutler’s book, “The Washingtonienne: A Novel.”
And so it goes, lovers for merely two weeks in the spring of 2004, now engaged in legal combat for nearly a year with a trial date still not set.