In the cutthroat world of mortgage lenders, rivalry among competitors can get nasty -- real nasty.
Just ask Theresa Niemiec, the wife of a Quicken Loans executive who claims her husband's rivals "crowd shamed" her in a series of raunchy and misogynistic texts and videos as a way to hurt her husband's employer.
One man falsely accused her of performing sex acts with a competitor, she says, then mocked her husband in a follow-up text message: "Im really sorry that I hurt your feelings," he texted, adding emojis resembling sex organs. "How's Teresa. Give her my best.' "
Niemiec, the wife of Quicken Loans Executive Vice President Austin Niemiec, got the message and filed a defamation lawsuit this month against one of her husband's competitors: Anthony Casa, CEO of the Association of Independent Mortgage Experts (AIME).
The suit alleges that Casa falsely accused Niemiec of being promiscuous in college with United Wholesale Mortgage CEO Mat Isbia. According to the suit, Casa and Isbia are friends, have work ties, and consider themselves competitors of Quicken Loans.
Isbia is not being sued.
Though Casa has never met Niemiec, the suit states, he "placed her in his crosshairs because she's Mr. Niemiec's wife," and degraded and humiliated them both through multiple "defamatory" text messages that he sent to her husband, including:
--"Love to meet your wife. It's amazing that's the girl who (performed oral sex) in college. Way to marry up."
--"No lip kisses."
--"You never trusted her anyway."
According to the lawsuit, Niemiec's lawyer demanded a retraction from Casa, but he allegedly mocked the couple instead, sending this text message on July 7 to her husband:
"Good morning little buddy. I saw the letter from your attorney. I'm really sorry that I hurt your feelings. Give everyone my best! Can't (wait) to see you soon." He closed the text with a wink emoji.
The next day, Casa sent the husband another text message: "How's Teresa. Give her my best." Added were numerous emojis representing sex organs, including eggplants.
The lawsuit called the texts "reprehensible and especially appalling during the #metoo era" and said that Casa and others targeted Niemiec "because of her gender."
"The defamatory video clips and text messages ... exploit the long and deeply disturbing history of boorish and misogynistic insults by men who seek to dominate and demean the role and place of women in society," states the lawsuit, which was filed July 20.
"This should not be tolerated nor diminished nor brushed off as jokes or 'boys being boys' preying on the vulnerabilities of women," Niemiec's lawyer, Jason Hirsch, wrote in the lawsuit.
The lawsuit includes screenshots of a lewd text chain about Niemiec that Casa sent to her husband and others, including Kevin Peranio, the chief lending officer at PRMG, and Ramon Walker, owner of Mount Diablo Lending.
According to the lawsuit, "Peranio and Walker recorded video clips of each of them viewing and reacting to Casa's defamatory video clips and text messages in a disparaging, derisive and ridiculing manner." Casa then sent the video clips to Niemiec's husband and others "in a deliberate effort to crowd shame" her, the suit says.
Neither Peranio nor Walker are named as defendants in the lawsuit.
The lawsuit seeks a retraction of the videos, unspecified damages and attorney fees.
Casa took to Facebook on Sunday to apologize for his alleged remarks. In an eight-minute video, he said that he made a "big mistake" and "an error in judgment" and that he let his anger get the best of him following a heated discussion with Mr. Niemiec.
According to Casa, Mr. Niemiec had sent him a video of him and his wife celebrating a record month or quarter at Quicken Loans, and he felt that "they were trying to egg me on."
"Unfortunately I let the emotions of the situation get the better of me. I responded with a video message and I said some really inappropriate lewd comments about that person's wife. It's things that I should have never had said, things that I don't believe and things that are inappropriate and hurtful," Casa said. "I am beyond sorry to everyone for making those comments. In the moment, I just lost all sense of reality."
In his video, Casa also asked for the support of the broker community, saying he is aware of the lawsuit filed against him in Michigan and that people will be talking about him -- but that he doesn't want his mistake to derail what he described as a strong broker movement.
"I'm going to be embarrassed about this for the rest of my life. As the father of two daughters, I have to live with this," Casa said, noting he also works with many women in the broker community. "This is just not who I am ... I am sorry that these words came out of my mouth ... I need to make sure that moving forward this never happens again ... I'm going to own this."
Casa's post has triggered an outpouring of support from many. Since Sunday, more than 80 people have posted positive comments on his Facebook page, with many applauding him for owning up to his mistake and telling him nobody is perfect.
"We've all done and said things we aren't proud of. Who cares. Life goes on and we have your back Anthony," read one post.
"Thank you for your honesty," another Facebook user posted. "Character shows up when nobody is looking and you taking the steps to clean up a mess on your own accord shows you're a man of character and integrity."
One friend compared him to a popular cartoon character.
"Everyone makes mistakes. It takes a real Man to recognize, apologize and make it right. You're a good man Charlie Brown. Stay strong."
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