Woman sues Joe Oltmann for defamation over false murder claim

A writer for an online LGBTQ magazine is suing conservative Colorado podcaster Joe Oltmann for defamation after Oltmann accused her of working for Nazis and being involved in a man’s supposed murder.

Sarah Ashton-Cirillo, a transgender woman, is seeking economic and punitive damages against Oltmann for comments he made on his podcast in April, while she was working in Ukraine. Oltmann suggested that Ashton-Cirillo was somehow involved in the disappearance of Gonzalo Lira, a man who briefly disappeared during the conflict in Ukraine.

Oltmann, an election denier who has called for his political opponents to be hung, claimed Lira had been beheaded and said Ashton-Cirillo was an accessory to murder. Lira, however, was not dead, but had been detained by Ukrainian authorities after posting “Russian disinformation,” according to the lawsuit. Oltmann also said Ashton-Cirillo was working as a “Nazi operative,” despite knowing the claims were false, according to the lawsuit.

Cirillo-Ashton first sued Oltmann in Denver in April, but a judge found the case should have been filed in Douglas County and moved the lawsuit to that jurisdiction. Ashton-Cirillo dropped the lawsuit there in October. She has now refiled a nearly identical lawsuit in Denver County.

Her attorney, Ian Hicks, said the case was moved because of an “administrative snafu,” and said attempting to shift the case back to Denver is not about avoiding Douglas County’s more conservative political bend.

“The case is absolutely clear either way; I would try this case anywhere in America and feel good about it,” he said Tuesday.

Andrea Hall, the attorney who represented Oltmann in the initial lawsuit in April, declined to comment Tuesday and said she was not aware of the new complaint, which was filed Nov. 24.

Oltmann was also sued for defamation in December 2020 after he accused an employee of Denver-based Dominion Voting Systems of conspiring to falsify presidential election results in favor of Joe Biden. That lawsuit is ongoing.

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