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September 28th, 2010
07:18 PM ET

Assistant Michigan AG targets openly gay college student

Editor's Note: Watch Anderson's interview with Andrew Shirvell

Martina Stewart
AC360° Digital Producer

(CNN) – Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox wants to make something crystal clear: no one should mistake the opinions of Andrew Shirvell, an assistant attorney general in Cox’s office, for being those of the Michigan Attorney General’s office itself.

For nearly six months, Shirvell has used his blog “Chris Armstrong Watch,” to shine an online spotlight on college student Chris Armstrong, the openly gay president of the student governmental body at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Using the online moniker “Concerned Michigan Alumnus,” Shirvell launched his blog in late April.

“Welcome to ‘Chris Armstrong Watch,’” Shirvell wrote in his inaugural blog post. “This is a site for concerned University of Michigan alumni, students, and others who oppose the recent election of Chris Armstrong – a RADICAL HOMOSEXUAL ACTIVIST, RACIST, ELITIST, & LIAR – as the new head of student government.”

Among other things, Shirvell has published blog posts that accuse Armstrong of going back on a campaign promise he made to minority students; engaging in “flagrant sexual promiscuity” with another male member of the student government; sexually seducing and influencing “a previously conservative [male] student” so much so that the student, according to Shirvell, “morphed into a proponent of the radical homosexual agenda;” hosting a gay orgy in his dorm room in October 2009; and trying to recruit incoming first year students “to join the homosexual ‘lifestyle.’”

In a statement provided to CNN Tuesday evening, Michigan’s top lawyer sought to put some daylight between his office and Shirvell's online behavior.

“Mr. Shirvell's personal opinions are his and his alone and do not reflect the views of the Michigan Department of Attorney General,” Cox said in the written statement provided by his office. “But his immaturity and lack of judgment outside the office are clear."

Contacted recently by CNN, Armstrong declined to comment on the record about Shirvell’s actions and would only say that he did not want to dignify Shirvell’s comments with a response and that he was pursuing legal action against Shirvell.

In previous interviews, Shirvell has made no apologies for his blog postings.

“Did he think he was just going to get some kind of free pass just because he’s gay or whatever?,” Shirvell said earlier this month with Detroit TV station WXYZ. “I mean, we’re all adults here and so, you know, we’re treating him like an adult with adult level criticism.”

Shirvell also told the local news station that his online postings were justified not because Armstrong is openly gay but because Armstrong is “somebody that’s there to promote special rights for homosexuals at the cost of, you know, heterosexual students.”


Filed under: 360° Radar • Bullying • Gay & Lesbian Issues • Martina Stewart
soundoff (228 Responses)
  1. Christopher Gibson

    I feel that if this person has to truly say such vile things about someone based solely upon that person;s sexual orientation should not be allowed to be an Assistant Attorney General for any state within the United States of America.

    September 28, 2010 at 11:38 pm |
  2. LF

    I live in Ann Arbor.
    My husband is an alumni so is my daughter.
    I have a child at the University of Michigan. Yes a child, my child.
    What is the University of Michigan doing to protect its students against the like of obsessed and deranged state government official who appently is stalking and recording a young man studying at this institution?
    How far is this man going to go and how close is he going to get to this young student?
    The most shocking part is that his boss, no other than our Attorney General recognises his "immaturity and lack of judgement" and keeps him employed?
    I would expect nothing else from a man in charge of upholding the law in this state that he fired his assistant involved in this situation and campains to institute a ciber bullying law in our state ASAP.
    This assistant district attorney needs a psychiatrist. He looks deranged and irrational.

    September 28, 2010 at 11:37 pm |
  3. Lisa Knapp

    I was horrified when I saw this story on AC360. Thank you, Andrerson for bringing it to our attention. Please continue to keep us posted on the story.

    Andrew Shirvell only proved he is an immatrue and unstable man. Michigan AG Cox should be ashamed for allowing Shirvell to keep his job as he obviously doesn't respect the rights of ALL Michigan residents. Shirvell and Cox should both lose their jobs!

    September 28, 2010 at 11:36 pm |
  4. Jim

    Everyone contact Governor Jennifer Grandholm and demand that she terminate Mr. Shervile's employment with the State of Michigan.

    Thank you Anderson Cooper for bringing this horrible man, the assistant attorney general of Michigan, to our attention.

    September 28, 2010 at 11:34 pm |
  5. CJ

    what, you loose your first ammendment right if you work for the government as a public employee? This is the United States of AMERICA, free speech is a right.I will speak up any time I want .

    September 28, 2010 at 11:33 pm |
  6. Christine Sunna

    Frankly I can't believe that Shirvell hasn't been arrested for harrassment. This is a man who claims to be Christian who is doing his best to destroy a young man simply due to sexual preference. Calling him a radical homosexual activist, a racist, an elitist, and a liar. Posting blogs and attacking his family and friends. I feel that Shirvell is dangerous and most definitely has a screw loose. At the very least Shirvell should be fired for his behavior.

    September 28, 2010 at 11:32 pm |
  7. Ken Priest

    How does this guy have a job working for the state still? Attorney General Mike Cox needs to represent everyone in Michigan not just the people on his staff or people that worked on his campaign.

    September 28, 2010 at 11:31 pm |
  8. Ann de Vries

    I am a straight, 40 years married to the same person, Baptist grandmother, and I think Mr. Shirvell is an idiot and an embarrassment to the human race. He certainly doesn't belong in public office. Mr. Armstrong is displaying more maturity and class than this so-called representative of of an impartial legal system. How can Mr. Shirvell carry out his duties when he has this kind of blatant bias? He needs to read the New Testament if he is under the mistaken belief that he is a Christian. Frankly, I find it very suspicious that Mr. Shirvell displays this much anti-gay vitriol. Methinks he doth protest too much. He needs to get a life and leave this poor kid alone.

    September 28, 2010 at 11:31 pm |
  9. Mr. Williams

    After watching Shirvell's interview w/ Anderson Cooper, I'm really sick, and tired, of people slamming others then following their comments with "I'm a Christian" as if that's supposed to give them a free pass. Whether you're a Christian or not, the moral fabric of humanity is to "treat others the way you'd want to be treated." No one is perfect and we have all "fallen short," which is why none of us are in position to cast stones. If you disagree with someone, the best thing to do is PRAY for them.

    September 28, 2010 at 11:30 pm |
  10. Oralia Carrillo

    Each and every one of us have an agenda in this life. I don't agree with the harrasing, but I can see both of the men's agenda. May God bless them both. Thank you.

    September 28, 2010 at 11:30 pm |
  11. Rick Wenner

    Mr. Shirvell is so strange... In my opinion, his eyes and his presentation make me think he's the devil's representative. People who think like him are simply sickening.

    September 28, 2010 at 11:28 pm |
  12. scott brothertton

    I live in michigan and I'm not a gay rights guy but this is guy needs to be fired for slander he is not what I want my taxes being paid for mike cox should be fired for backing this wack job.michigan don't need amymore bad press!!

    September 28, 2010 at 11:28 pm |
  13. Sheryl

    I'm glad we have freedom of speech and we all have the right to an opinion ,my opinion is that Andrew Shirvell has gone way to far with his, and he is a bully. I dont understand how he can keep his job. It was absoultly disscusting to listen to him talking tonight. I hope the young man takes him to court and gets a heafty settlement. Sorry Chris that there is such rude and disrespectfull and hatefull people out there that have nothing better todo then to pick on a well achieved college student..

    September 28, 2010 at 11:28 pm |
  14. Van Brown

    The case for Chris Armstrong is a lawyers perfect storm. The assistant DA ought to know better than this, after all he is an attorney or at least is supposed to be. This is going to go down for a lot of money, and that DA has the job expectancy of the 17 year locust- about one week.

    September 28, 2010 at 11:28 pm |
  15. J M Zelko

    Anderson Cooper...
    YOU are JUST SO AWESOME....and 100% correct...
    I am from Germany and always thought USA was more open minded than what I witness,
    Thanks there are GREAT people like YOU ......
    To BAD this is a minority (being open minded)
    Love Your Show
    J M Z

    September 28, 2010 at 11:28 pm |
  16. Lisa Foster

    I was appalled by guest Andrew shirvell. The man clearly is unbalanced and neurotic. It's an abomination that he calls himself Christian. Pretty sure his behavior is NOT Christ-like. My heart goes out to Chris Armstrong. Chris, keep on keepin' on!!!

    September 28, 2010 at 11:27 pm |
  17. Joel

    One wonders where this wave of homophobia will end. Seems that there is a segment of our society that desperately needs something to hate and fear. This guy is a criminal. Who knows what his motives truly are, but it appears that he may be harboring the same self-loathing that currently plagues Terry Jones.
    Intolerance is a cancer that will destroy us all, in the end, if we do nothing about this kind of hate crime.

    September 28, 2010 at 11:26 pm |
  18. Paul Y

    People like Andrew Shirvell need to be shipped to Saudi Arabia, to enjoy their brand of "freedom," as that is the sort of forced lifestyle he advocates. A modern society has no place for ignorant hatemongers.

    September 28, 2010 at 11:26 pm |
  19. Melissa Manie

    I just listened to your story about Chris Anderson and Andy Shrivell. I can not understand how a grown man such as Mr. Shrivell can go on a political war path towards a student of his own Alumni. What difference does it make if Mr. Anderson is gay? How does that affect Mr. Andersons ability to perform his job? Does Mr. Shrivell have nothing else to do with his "off" time? Is his life that boring?
    This seems like more of a story of obsession.

    September 28, 2010 at 11:25 pm |
  20. Curtis hunt

    It is hard to believe in this day and age there are still people that condem others because they are different than themselves. It is worse that these same people are allowed to represent our government.

    September 28, 2010 at 11:24 pm |
  21. Judy Preville

    Thank you for shining light on our illustrious atty. gen. office. It has been nearly impossible to find out what is happening with this strange "civil servant". Is this unrequited love, too much time on his hands or a really dangerous wacko?

    September 28, 2010 at 11:24 pm |
  22. Mar

    It's quite difficult to fathom that this is our reality....where individuals employed by the state, representing the people of that state, could be allowed to openly harass and stalk another individual. While Shirvell's obsession is far beyond odd, it truly speaks to the power and importance placed on political relationships where such a situation can openly and freely exist without any accountability from the state.

    September 28, 2010 at 11:24 pm |
  23. alan woronoff

    I am a University of Michigan alumnus, and am totally embarrassed that Mr. Shervill is besmirching our university with his harassing and discriminatory behavior. Christopher Armstrong is President of Michigan Student Assembly–a distinguished position of leadership of a large diverse student body.

    The fact that he is being targeted because he is a gay man is shameful and horrifying. The fact that his 'cyber-bully' is an assistant attorney general is shameful. Where is Mr. Cox in this? Mr. Shervill should immediately be fired because he has lost his objectivity in defending ALL citizens of Michigan. He is not attacking Mr. Armstrong over political stances, but rather using the most offensive bigoted language and symbols to isolate and attempt to destroy Armstrong.

    Mr. Shervill should know better and should have judgment. But bigoted people have no ability to see outside their own narrow view. Shame on him, and may strength be with Mr. ARmstrong to overcome this harassment.

    September 28, 2010 at 11:22 pm |
  24. Linda

    This man needs to fired!!! what a horrible thing to do to someone. This is a public official who gets paid by the tax payers.This person should not keep his job after posting such a hateful attack and create a blog of hate.

    September 28, 2010 at 11:22 pm |
  25. Terry

    After watching Andrew Shirvell's interview with Anderson Cooper on AC360, I believe the Michigan Attorney General has a very serious problem within his department. As Anderson Cooper attempted to explain the Michigan State Guideline for "cyber-bullying", Mr. Shirvell claimed that he has a First Amendment right to attack Chris Armstrong, a college student at the University of Michigan. Frankly, I would suggest that the Attorney General request a complete psychiatric workup on Mr. Shirvell, and if I was a coworker of Mr. Shirvell, I would be requesting the same review by a qualified physician.

    September 28, 2010 at 11:22 pm |
  26. Sharon LoMonaco

    I think the one who is more in tune with the Nazis here is Shervill and his comments have nothing to do with the concept of being a Christian. He needs to be looking for a new job as the State of Michigan needs to can him immediately!I have never responded to one of these stories but his one is outrageous!

    Sharon LoMonaco
    Weed, CA

    September 28, 2010 at 11:22 pm |
  27. Dan

    Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox
    why has this man not been fired, this is insane
    this 21 year old has had to live with this as long as he has. This man needs to be fired, i hope you stay on the story.
    this is just not right.

    September 28, 2010 at 11:21 pm |
  28. Mikal

    I am flaberghasted at the abuse of the first ammenment. This guy is insane and should be fired from his job. This kinda conduct should not be associated with a public office that we the people pay taxes on. Harassing a 21 year old is unacceptable, innapropriate and juvenille. Mike Cox should be held aaccountable for allowing this to go on. I am truly dissapointed in the attorney generals office. How can they even justify this type of abuse to a young adult and then claim to defend and represent the people of Michigan.

    September 28, 2010 at 11:21 pm |
  29. Christina Glover

    I want to thank you, Anderson, for your amazing work and everyone at CNN. You should run for a political position in the future because at least you understand both sides of an argument whether its a moral or political issue, and you would keep our government honest . Furthermore, CNN is the best in giving facts on both sides of a particular issue, and allowing the viewer to conclude opinions. However, Fox,on numerous occasions gives false or misleading information. For the most part, Fox isn't about true journalism or the truth, but rather a personal gain for only a portion of society. I do watch all news station including CNN, Fox, and others on a daily basis. Thank You again, CNN, for reporting the truth.

    September 28, 2010 at 11:20 pm |
  30. Richard Baker

    When will some people wake up? Homosexuality is not going away, and is probably no more prevelant than it has been. Just more open. I think if the people who are against homosexuality were able to keep all the homosexuals from working or going to church then the economy would collapse. Homosexuals are everywhere in every walk of life. These is no cure as it is not an illness. Why can people just not accept love being given to another person. No, I am not gay, just proud of those who stand up for love and peace for ALL.

    September 28, 2010 at 11:20 pm |
  31. david

    Anderson, I'm living in DC now, but recently moved from Michigan. Are you also following the story in West Michigan this week of the transgender student at Mona Shores High School – a girl that identifies as a boy – who was democratically elected by the student body as homecoming king? The school took away the title because (he) is registered at the school as a girl.

    What's going on in Michigan with all this homophobia?

    September 28, 2010 at 11:19 pm |
  32. Jamie

    Thank you for exposing this radical Christian. They defenitly need to come back to reality. We need more hard line reporting like your style. Keep up the great work!

    September 28, 2010 at 11:19 pm |
  33. Raz

    Anderson,

    I watch your show everyday, but today, I think your interview was very unfair. He is clearly exercising his right, and this has nothing to do with his job.

    September 28, 2010 at 11:18 pm |
  34. Kelly

    I saw Anderson interview Shirvell and I have to say, the man seems deeply disturbed. He had that dazed, postal worker stare in his eyes. If I worked in the Michigan AG office, I would be very afraid to work with this man. Maybe they're afraid to fire him.

    September 28, 2010 at 11:17 pm |
  35. George

    Look how far we've come. A government sponsored witch hunt. Nice.

    September 28, 2010 at 11:15 pm |
  36. lindsey

    I am disgusted by this story. I.believe in free speech but this is a hate crime and this puublic official should be fired asap. This poor student just trying to be a student president.

    September 28, 2010 at 11:15 pm |
  37. Miya

    Watching this interview, I was outraged. This guy is spewing hate. Yes he has freedom of speech, but as asst attorney General he can not torture someone like this. He needs to be terminated immediately. Absolutley disgusting

    September 28, 2010 at 11:15 pm |
  38. dave mundt

    Greetings and Salutations...
    Wow...Andrew Shirvell really has some issues, and, having listened to his interview, I wonder if he protesteth too much...

    September 28, 2010 at 11:12 pm |
  39. Julia

    Begs the question of how many 'investigations' Mr. Shirvell has overseen against openly gay suspects. When a man with this much power targets a college kid this openly, I have a hard time believing he's above using his power to pursue other vendettas.

    September 28, 2010 at 11:10 pm |
  40. Jon Kachman

    Disgusting.

    September 28, 2010 at 11:05 pm |
  41. Niko the Farmer

    What is it about gay people that makes people nuts? Apparently, the dude was elected head of the student government in a fair, democratic process. This is the way America works, and I must admit I'm a little befuddled by an Assistant Attorney General who can't accept that.

    Niko the Farmer
    Clintonville, Connecticut

    September 28, 2010 at 11:04 pm |
  42. Polly Booher

    Listened to your broadcast tonight Anderson...good job as always. I never cease to be amazed at the low-lifes that my Christian faith somehow manages to "beget". Andrew Shirvell is misguided, rude, and insensitive at best. The right to free speech does not give someone the right to demonize anyone like he has Chris Armstrong. Free speech is a right, but it ends where someone else's begins. And it is so true that government employees do NOT have the right to conduct themselves in such a manner – publicly or privately. Coupled with the fact that Mr. Shirvell is the Asst. AG, this entire ugly, hate-filled episode is even more appalling. Mr. Shirvell's "15 minutes of fame" should end now. Just like his job....assuming Mr. Cox does his. Thank you for your consistently fair reporting.

    September 28, 2010 at 11:02 pm |
  43. David Milligan

    This is outrageous!

    September 28, 2010 at 11:00 pm |
  44. Philip

    I find it very sad that someone that claims to be a christian has so much hate in them. Not only does he claim he is not a biggot but also claims that he is not using his office as Asst Attorney General to promote his hate. His job is to represent ALL Michigan citizens and even in his private life he is still viewed as the Asst Attorney General. That's like saying the Presidents comments are only of value between the hours of 9-5.
    This is the problen with this country, we have the freedom to love who ever we want and the Right Wing Radical Christians think everyone should live by their morals. I'm a gay man and once again, I feel as we have seen so many times in the recent past, my gaydar says this guy is another example of a closeted homosexual.
    I feel the State should fire this radical ASAP. Is this hatred what we want the students of the University this student represents to learn. Everyone is welcome to their own opinions but should not be permited in the fashion this representative of the State is promoting his agenda of hate targeted at the gay community and more importantly against an openly gay fairly elected representative of a State University

    September 28, 2010 at 10:59 pm |
  45. mona

    sounds like Mr Shirvell needs to understand that freedom of speech doesn't allow stalking, which by the sounds of the blog content is what is going on.

    September 28, 2010 at 10:58 pm |
  46. Lee

    No one can deny Shirvell his right to free speech but hiding behind Christian ideals and using Nazi symbolism is still a hate-filled attack through and through. When is this country going to wake up and realize that hiding bigotry behind religion is not an acceptable defense.

    September 28, 2010 at 10:57 pm |
  47. AJ North

    Shirvell is but one more example of a profoundly disturbed individual that refers to itself as a "Christian" – when the unassailable fact is that there is NOTHING remotely Christ-like about this obscene human dross. That he continues to enjoy a position of public trust and responsibility in the Office of the Michigan Attorney General months after launching his deranged attacks on a total stranger does not speak well for the office, not to mention the MI A.G.

    Of course, the case may well turn out to be that Shirvell is yet another of these anti-gay bible-beating-bunko artists, hateful bigots and ignoramuses described to perfection by the Bard himself with the line, "The lady doth protest too much, methinks" (Hamlet: Act III, Scene II). Even if it should, that would in no way excuses the actions of Shirvell – or the inactions of Attorney General Mike Cox.

    September 28, 2010 at 10:57 pm |
  48. Matt Harper

    REALLY!? We elect these people to govern our "justice" as Americans? What a hoax!

    September 28, 2010 at 10:55 pm |
  49. Matt Harper

    REALLY!? What a hypocritical ass!

    September 28, 2010 at 10:54 pm |
  50. KROGERS

    I am a MI resident and am DISGUSTED by this! This is appalling and should be handled by Mike Cox. By handled I mean get rid of this guy! You don't have enough sense to not put things on the internet....really!

    And I heard him say he is not a cyber bully – check the definition. He is not a bigot – check the defintion.

    For someone who graduated from U of M he's not very smart. THIS IS NOT A POLITICAL CAMPAIGN! Call it like it is you are a homophobic jackass who can't stand change. You give all U of M grads quite a bad name.

    Way to go!

    September 28, 2010 at 10:52 pm |
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