A bombshell report about Michael Avenatti, a high-profile lawyer turned potential politician, appeared on celebrity news and gossip site TMZ in November 2018:
Our law enforcement sources say Avenatti was arrested Wednesday after a woman filed a felony DV report. We’re told her face was “swollen and bruised” with “red marks” on both cheeks.
Our sources say the alleged incident occurred Tuesday night, but there was another confrontation Wednesday between the two at an exclusive apartment building in the Century City area of L.A.
We’re told Wednesday afternoon the woman was on the sidewalk on her cellphone with sunglasses covering her eyes, sobbing and screaming on the phone, “I can’t believe you did this to me. I’m going to get a restraining order against you.”
The backlash was swift: Vermont Democrats canceled a planned event with Avenatti, and high-profile client Stormy Daniels released a statement reserving judgment, but pledging to drop him as legal counsel if the allegations proved to be true.
In the meantime, a damning photograph of a badly battered and bruised woman appeared along with the claim it showed his purported victim:
It was quickly debunked and deleted, but not before it had escaped into the wilds of social media in the form of rumors and insinuations.
However, the image image was also used as “proof” that Keith Ellison, Minnesota’s attorney general-elect, had abused a former girlfriend:
In reality, this is a photograph that has been passed around for various reasons for several years. We have not yet been able to track down where it originated, but we found it online as far back as 2013 using a simple reverse image search; it has been appropriated and reappropriated for various reasons since