Today, fencing master and underwear salesman Lt. Gerard De Mereux was vindicated for the second time in the space of a week. Last week, De Mereux was awarded $500 in damages in a suit against Hollywood director J. Stuart Blackton, who was accused of beating De Mereux with a horsewhip. De Mereux had been living as a guest in Blackton’s home, giving fencing and corrective gymnastics lessons to Blackton’s daughters.
De Mereux testified that Mrs. Blackton had given him a romantic note, and that as a gentleman, "the only honorable thing for him to do was leave." While packing his bags, Mrs. Blackton reportedly began to strike and spit at him, at which point, Blackton entered the room with a riding crop and beat De Mereux about the shoulders and chest.
Blackton testified that the attack was prompted by De Mereux’s attack on his wife, during which he choked her and clawed at her with his fingernails, drawing blood. But ho! De Mereux presented to the jury his fingernails, and brought forth numerous witnesses who claimed that De Mereux had spent the past 12 years as a confirmed nailbiter who could not possibly have scratched a soul.
Following the judgment, De Mereux was taken before the Lunacy Commission on an insanity complaint offered by Albert A. Kidder, Blackton’s attorney. After several days of observation, physicians from the Lunacy Commission declared him merely "emotionally unstable," but were unable to find evidence of the insanity complaint, which, among other things claimed that De Mereux had threatened Blackton’s daughters.