Pardalis & Nohavicka Entertainment Law Update: Press Release Blows Back Onto Sexual Harassment Victim Who Went To Media
This week’s case involves a ballet performer who was sexually harassed by a 68-year old patron of the arts. According to her complaint filed in Manhattan, while she worked for the man and his company on a motion picture relating to the ballet world, he asked the dancer if he could massage her feet with his tongue. She then goes on to describe in detail many other acts of harassment.
Unfortunately, the dancer sent a copy of the complaint to the New York Post, which published a story about the case. The man denied the allegations in the complaint and then counter-sued the dancer for defamation. The dancer asked the court to dismiss the defamation claim because she was entitled to a privilege because of the lawsuit. The court, however, refused.
The rule is that statements made and filed in court throughout a lawsuit are privileged. But, out-of-court statements, such as those made in a press conference or press release, are not covered by the absolute privilege. The court, therefore, concluded that the delivery of a copy or report of a complaint to the press is not a statement made during the course of judicial proceedings and therefore is not protected by the common law privilege.
The case will now proceed to a jury trial on the dancer’s sexual harassment charges and the 68-year-old’s defamation claim.
Here is the case: