The online war between two survival-show reality stars — and former Special Forces teammates — is shifting to the legal front.
One has filed a defamation lawsuit in North Carolina while the other has been granted a protective order in Texas.
Joseph Teti, co-host of Discovery Channel's "Dual Survival," filed a defamation lawsuit against Mykel Hawkeye, better known by his screen name Mykel Hawke, star of the network's "Man, Woman, Wild" show, which aired new episodes from 2010 to 2012, among other survival programs.
The two have traded fire from their Facebook bunkers over a wide range of accusations and counter-accusations over the past year. Now in a 20-page complaint filed Nov. 26 in North Carolina Superior Court, Teti accuses Hawke of orchestrating an online smear campaign to discredit Teti and scuttle endorsement deals.
The lawsuit alleges Mykel Hawke "is driven by the motive of jealousy to destroy Mr. Teti's successful television career," and that Hawke "enlisted several co-conspirators ... to aid him in his campaign against Mr. Teti."
The lawsuit also names:
- The Special Forces Association and its president, retired Army Col. Jack Tobin.
- Retired Special Forces Sgt. Maj. George Davenport, a longtime SFA member who added Teti to his Special Forces Poser Patrol's Facebook "Wall of Shame."
- Former Marine Scott Hughes, moderator of the Military Phonies website, who was among several calling on Teti to produce his active-duty DD-214 and National Guard NGB-22, both official military documents, listing units, schools, awards and other pertinent details of service.
- Monique Haina, who the lawsuit claims has posted "dozens if not hundreds" of false and defamatory statements on Facebook and other websites.
All are named for alleged defamation and causing Teti financial losses and emotional suffering.
Tobin and the SFA did not respond to repeated requests for comment. Davenport declined to comment until he could consult with his lawyer. Hawke and Hughes deny Teti's claims.
"We actually are looking forward to a court case so we can subpoena his real records and finally show the truth," Hawke said when asked about the suit.
"I'm not worried about it," Hughes said when asked. "I'm actually glad to see it, because hopefully this will force him to show his DD-214 and his NGB-22, which is what we've been asking all along. There's a lot that will come out in court, if it comes to that."
Teti declined to comment on his lawsuit, but his attorney, David Redding, says Teti will seek more than $1 million in damages.
"We have not calculated the damages to a specific number yet, but they continue to be incurred," Redding said. "It's going to be the money he's lost as a result of this campaign that Capt. Hawke has started against him. And in a way he's succeeded. I've never seen anything like this."
The lawsuit comes a few weeks after Hawke was granted a permanent protective order against Teti. A Texas judge found reasonable grounds to believe Hawke "has been the victim of stalking" and ordered Teti to cease all communication with Hawke and his family, except through lawyers. Citing federal law, the order, signed Oct. 31, also prohibits Teti from possessing firearms or ammunition.
In his lawsuit, Teti says the protective order is just another example of Hawke's harassment.
The lawsuit disputes claims allegedly made by Hawke that "Teti has a history of threatening, harassing, and stalking people" and that "Teti would resort to arson, planting bombs in residences, harming women, children, and animals ..."
Stolen valor accusations
According to the lawsuit, Teti was a Marine in the mid-1980s before eventually enlisting in the Army National Guard, where he served under Hawke in a Special Forces unit. In an April interview, Teti told Military Times he left the military shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and began working as a military contractor.
According to his Discovery Channel biography and his personal website, Teti says he is a "combat veteran" and a "former operator in a highly classified government counter-terrorist unit."
"Teti's employment duties with the Agency included the support of United States military units under fire from the enemy," the lawsuit states. "On several occasions during the Deployments Mr. Teti was engaged in direct enemy fire."
Hawke, a retired Special Forces captain, served in Afghanistan, among other tours, before launching his own reality TV career.
By all accounts, the two were friends until a falling out a few years ago. Now Hawke is among a number of detractors to criticize Teti for representing himself as a combat veteran when he never served in combat while in the military.
Hawke and others blame Teti for the death of another Special Forces veteran, Michael Donatelli, and the deaths of two others in a helicopter crash last year during filming of another Discovery survival show Teti was helping produce. Production for that show was canceled after the accident.
The lawsuit names Monique Haina in conjunction with accusations surrounding the crash.
"Ms. Haina has made false statements regarding Mr. Teti on Facebook, other websites including CNNiReport, [and] endorsement companies ... that Mr. Teti is responsible for the deaths of three men who perished in a helicopter crash in February 2013," according to the lawsuit.
"I don't believe I defamed him," Haina told Military Times, when asked to comment on the lawsuit. "We've simply been asking for him to prove his claims."
Haina says she's a fan of both Hawke and Teti, but got involved when things started to get nasty on Facebook. She denies that Hawke "enlisted" her to do anything.
"Hell no," she said. "Let me tell you something — no one talks me into doing anything. I didn't even know him until all this blew up."
Teti targets SF Association
The lawsuit comes in the wake of the nonprofit Special Forces Association stripping Teti of his membership.
"He wants to clear his name," says Redding, Teti's attorney and a former Special Forces officer.
"I was a detachment commander. I had sergeants like Joe Teti serving with me. An officer owes his NCOs a great duty. I personally cannot imagine accusing one of my NCOs of something like this," Redding says.
The SFA's National Board voted in September to boot Teti after some two dozen association members came forward with allegations of misconduct against him.