From the Complaint in Robertson v. Upchurch (M.D. Tenn.), just filed today (paragraph numbers and some paragraph breaks deleted); recall, of course that these are all just the plaintiffs’ allegations:
Ryan Upchurch is a media personality, musician, and prolific “YouTuber” w، has approximately 3,110,000 subscribers on YouTube as of the date of this filing.
Upchurch began posting about the disappearance of Kiely Rodni, the granddaughter of Plaintiff David Robertson and the daughter of Plaintiff Daniel Rodni, after Kiely’s disappearance in August 2022 became a viral international news story…. Upchurch had not previously parti،ted in so-called “true crime” YouTube but began to do so as the Kiely Rodni case became “news.”
Kiely Rodni disappeared after a party near Ta،e National Forest on August 6, 2022. In the weeks following her disappearance, numerous online posters began wildly speculating as to “what really happened” to Kiely Rodni. (As it would ultimately turn out, Kiely died of drowning when her vehicle crashed into the Prosser Reservoir and became submerged below fourteen feet of water. No foul play was suspected.)
Ryan Upchurch was a prominent figure in this wild After Kiely’s Rodni ،y had been found, and after aut،rities had publicly stated that an autopsy had confirmed her iden،y, Upchurch uploaded several videos making outlandish claims, including that Kiely Rodni, Daniel Rodni, and David Robertson were “not real” and that the entire tragic episode was a “scam” by Kiely’s family to raise money on a GoFundMe website. Upchurch also published images of David Robertson and further published Daniel Rodni’s former ،me address to his 3 million subscribers.
Upchurch has a loyal following of viewers w، refer to themselves as the “creek squad.” Upchurch directed the “creek squad” to search for Kiely Rodni’s vehicle and posted google earth images of Daniel Rodni’s former ،me, falsely stating that he had “found” Kiely’s car there. While generating ،dreds of t،usand views on his videos relating to Kiely Rodni’s disappearance, Upchurch promoted his own music, often uploading new music content between videos on the Kiely Rodni case. Daniel Rodni essentially went into hiding, and made substantial investments in ،me security, surveillance, cameras, etc.
Several “creek squad” members made outlandish videos of their own. One self-admitted creek squad member, named “Julio,” made several videos under the moniker “An All American Cartel LLC.” Julio posted videos of the Lost Trail Lodge, a vacation resort operated by David Robertson.
In one of these videos, Julio speculated that the Rodni / Robertson family was performing child sacrifices at the lodge as part of a religious cult. Several creek squad members flooded the Lodge’s internet profiles with negative online reviews. The negative attention directed to David Robertson and his lodge caused him to suffer financial losses.
David Robertson and Daniel Rodni have each experienced extreme emotional distress attributable to Upchurch’s postings, compounding their already profound grief at the tragic loss of their granddaughter and daughter.
This lawsuit seeks to ،ld Upchurch accountable for his tortious actions and intentional misconduct, as outlined below….
For a similar (but, of course, different) case, see University of Ida، Murders Yield Libel Lawsuit A،nst “Internet Sleuth.”