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Defamation Lawsuit Against Nancy Grace Allowed to Continue
A federal judge from Connecticut has refused to dismiss a defamation lawsuit filed against television personality Nancy Grace, legal commentator Beth Karas and Time Warner Inc, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Michael Skakel is the person suing the talk show host. Skakel is the nephew of Robert F. Kennedy.
Skakel, released from prison in November, has been suspected of killing 15-year-old Martha Moxley back in 1975. He was convicted in 2002 and spent 11 years in prison. Now he is awaiting a possible retrial.
Grace has been covering the trial for quite some time and she interviewed Karas about a hearing from January where Skakel said that his sentence was wrongful.
Grace asked Karas the following on her HLN show: “Isn’t it true that the Kennedy cousin apparently was up in a tree masturbating trying to look into [Moxley's] bedroom window?”
Karas said: “Well, his DNA was found, yes … up in the tree.”
“Beth, I love the way you put it so delicately,” Grace said. “‘His DNA, you know, it was sperm. There, I said it, and so he places himself there up in a tree masturbating looking down at her window, and, whoa, she [Moxley] turns up dead within a couple of hours.”
Skakel filed multiple defamation claims against the show and Grace, claiming that those comments hurt his reputation and reduced the possibility that the conviction would be reversed or that he would be granted a new trial. Skakel also said that he has suffered hatred, scorn, shame and ridicule.
The 2002 trial never mentioned DNA found at the scene of the crime.
U.S. District Judge Vanessa Bryant said in her ruling that, “Despite allegedly knowing that no DNA evidence linked Skakel to Martha Moxley’s murder and despite that Skakel’s DNA was allegedly not found anywhere on the victim’s body or clothing or at the scene of the crime, Skakel and Grace published a statement to a wide audience that the Plaintiff’s DNA in the form of sperm was found in a tree outside of Martha Moxley’s window.”
Judge Bryant also noted that she is not prepared to rule if Skakel is a public figure or not, which is required of such a lawsuit. “I cannot at this juncture conclude that the implication that hard DNA evidence underscored Skakel’s murder conviction when no such evidence existed is simply subsidiary to the larger implication that he was, indeed, convicted of murder.”
“While Skakel was convicted of murder, he was allegedly so convicted absent any DNA evidence linking him to the crime. Grace’s and Karas’s comments are not merely a gloss on Skakel’s conviction; their statements imply that hard, unfeeling, scientific and direct evidence linked Skakel to the scene and conclusively corroborated his guilt, when such scientific certainty did not exist.”Defamation Lawsuit Against Nancy Grace Allowed to Continue by Jim Vassallo