Criminal Justice

Judge Judy's son, a New York DA, sues sheriff for alleged defamation

The District Attorney in New York’s Putnam County has filed a $5 million defamation suit against the sheriff for the lawman’s claim that the DA improperly interfered with a rape prosecution.

At the center of the suit by by Putnam County District Attorney Adam Levy is the prosecution of his personal trainer, who is accused of raping a 13-year-old girl, report the New York Times, and the Associated Press. Levy claims in the suit that Sheriff Donald Smith falsely accused him of an “ongoing and improper involvement” in the prosecution” even though Levy’s office had recused itself from the case. Smith did not offer evidence to substantiate that claim, the Times says.

Levy is the son of TV’s Judge Judy, who said in a statement that her son is “principled, honorable and dedicated.” When someone attacks his character, she said, “they best be prepared to back it up. Shut up—or pay up.”

The suit claims “a simmering hostility” from within the sheriff’s office toward Levy after the prosecutor pushed to expand videotaping of suspects’ interviews.

The personal trainer, Alexandru Hossu, had occasionally stayed at Levy’s address, but he didn’t live at Levy’s house at the time of arrest, the suit says. Despite that knowledge, the sheriff publicized Levy’s address as the place where Hossu lived, the suit alleges.

At a news conference, Levy said Smith is “an out-of-control sheriff who does not care about the truth.” For his part, Smith says that if there was a smear campaign going on, it was against him. He told the Times the timing of the suit was “blatantly political” and designed to influence his re-election campaign.

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