Emma Cline and The Girls

‘The Girls’ Author Emma Cline Faces Accusations of Plagiarism

The Girls  author Emma Cline is being sued by an ex-boyfriend who alleges that Cline plagiarized parts of her hugely popular novel “by using spyware to access his email and other accounts.”


The Guardian reports that Cline “vehemently denies” the claims, made by Chaz Reetz-Laiolo with whom she was in a relationship while the pair were aspiring writers. It is from this shared time together that the claims arise, Cline’s countersuit says, noting that it “amounts to a few stray phrases and passages that stemmed from the couple’s shared lives, conversations and reading of each other’s work.”


According to Reetz-Laiolo, he was sold a computer by Emma Cline which had spyware installed. He claims she used this spyware to access his private accounts in order to steal his writing. He also names Penguin Random House in the lawsuit, on the grounds that they “knowingly” published plagiarized work. His lawsuit requests that Penguin Random House cease printing Cline’s novel, and asks for unspecified damages. 


Image Via The Paris Review

Image Via The Paris Review


The countersuit states that Reetz-Laiolo’s allegations are the “ludicrous” acts of an envious man and are “part of a two-year assault on her mental health and literary reputation.” Cline’s countersuit acknowledges that during their relationship she utilized spyware to investigate Reetz-Laiolo’s possible infidelity, but states she retained no access to the spyware once the computer was no longer in her possession. Cline is requesting that the court declare that “she has not infringed any copyright and seeks damages of at least $75,000.”


According to Cline’s lawyers, she is attempting to:


Put a stop to an escalating campaign by her abusive ex-boyfriend to extract millions of dollars by intimidation and threat, all under the auspices of frivolous claims of copyright infringement, a long-stale complaint that Cline “invaded” his privacy, and a ludicrous theory that she hacked into and stole unpublished written work from his computer.


If you haven’t read The Girls, I would urge you to do so. It is, regardless of its origins, incredible. Set against the dreamy backdrop of 60s California, it explores the dark and difficult elements of female adolescence through the character of Evie, a young girl who becomes involved with a Manson-family inspired cult. 


Featured Image Via Wired and Penguin Random House