Internet Law

Cheerleader's defamation verdict against thedirty.com is upheld


A federal judge has upheld a $338,000 defamation verdict against thedirty.com obtained by a former Cincinnati Bengals cheerleader.

U.S. District Judge William Bertelsman said the website and its founder weren’t protected from liability because they played a significant role in developing the content, the Associated Press reports in stories posted here and here. The federal Communications Decency Act protects website operators from liability for content posted by third parties.

Former cheerleader and school teacher Sarah Jones sued the website and its founder over online allegations that she had sex with every member of the Cincinnati Bengals and that her ex-husband had obtained two venereal diseases after cheating on her.

Bertelsman said the website founder, Hooman Karamian, “intentionally encourages illegal or actionable third-party postings to which he adds his own comments ratifying or adopting the posts.” Karamian uses the name Nik Richie.

Jones pleaded guilty last year to having sex with a 17-year-old former student, according to Fox News and a previous story by Cincinnati.com. In the Fox News article, Jones’ attorney said that the former teacher was studying for the LSAT and had expressed interest in becoming a lawyer.

Prior coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Did Lawyer Who Scored $11M Libel Win Sue & Serve Wrong Website?”

Updated at 12:55 p.m. to add detail from the Fox News article.

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