Be careful who you trust. The 1995 VIDEOTAPE LIE of D.Dimond and V.Gutierrez
Peretti’s filmabout Michael Jackson misnamed by its author “What really happened”is relying heavily on the commentaries from our two grand investigative journalists – DIANE DIMOND and VICTOR GUTIERREZ whom she always called her best source. Both are considered experts on Michael Jackson and both pride themselves on revealing ‘the whole truth’ about the man.
The literary legacy of these writers is gigantic and this makes it hard to analyze the results of their creative activity in a single post. This is why today’s piece will be solely about the so-called “explicit videotape” allegedly recording an instance of “molestation” by MJ of a boy.
The story began in early 1995 and lasted until 1998 when Michael Jackson won a slander suit against Victor Gutierrez while Diane Dimond managed to hide under the Shield law protecting journalists.
This post has a collection of various pieces of information about that case and I suggest that you read it as a kind of the Dimond/Gutierrez dossier and decide for yourself once and for all whether you want to sustain any relationship with these characters any further or whether you have already had enough of them.
Veritas Project about the “videotape story”
Happily I’ve found a working link to the great Veritas Project which tells us some details about Victor Gutierrez and Diane Dimond making up a fictional “molestation” video story about Jackson: http://mjjr.net/content/mjcase/part4.html
None of Diane Dimond’s and Ray Chandler’s activities could have been possible without the help of Victor Gutierrez. In 1997, Victor Gutierrez released “Michael Jackson was my Lover”, a tell-all book that describes in detail the alleged relationship that took place between Michael Jackson and his accuser [this filth will be dealt with in a separate post].
Shortly after releasing the book about Michael Jackson, Gutierrez began making the TV rounds. During an appearance on the tabloid television show Hard Copy, Gutierrez told reporter Diane Dimond that he had seen a videotape of Michael Jackson molesting his nephew Jeremy.
According to Gutierrez, the alleged tape had been captured by one of Jackson’s security cameras and given to the boy’s mother by an unknown source. Upon viewing the tape’s contents, Gutierrez says, the mother contacted the Los Angeles Police Department only to have her claims ignored by investigators. Unsure of what to do, she got in contact with Gutierrez, arranged a meeting with him in a hotel room and showed him the alleged tape.
”And now she is scared,” Gutierrez told Dimond. “The District Attorney is trying to get these tapes and I guess through my sources, they already been in contact with the mother. So, it’s up to the mother now to make the final decision.”
In response to the allegations, Michael Jackson filed a defamation of character lawsuit against Victor Gutierrez and Hard Copy. During the civil proceedings, the boy’s mother MARGARET MALDONADO testified that, contrary to what Gutierrez had reported,
- neither of her two sons had been molested by Jackson,
- she had not received any money from Jackson
- she had never met Victor Gutierrez.
Maldonado later discussed the case in her book Jackson Family Values:
- The story was an outrageous lie. Not one part of it was true. I’d never met the man. There was no tape. Michael never paid me for my silence. He had never molested Jeremy. Period.”
In the book Jackson Family Values, by Jermaine Jackson’s ex-common-law wife, Margaret Maldonado, she writes that in early 1995,
“I received a telephone call from a writer named Ruth Robinson. I had known Ruth for quite a while and respected her integrity. It made what she had to tell me all the more difficult to hear.
“I wanted to warn you, Margaret,” she said. “There’s a story going around that there is a videotape of Michael molesting one of your sons, and that you have the tape.”
If anyone else had said those words, I would have hung up the phone. Given the long relationship I had with Ruth, however, I gave her the courtesy of a response. I told her that it wasn’t true, of course, and that I wanted the story stopped in its tracks.
She had been in contact with someone who worked at the National Enquirer who had alerted her that a story was being written for that paper. Ruth cross-connected me with the woman, and I vehemently denied the story. Moreover, I told her that if the story ran, I would own the National Enquirer before the lawsuits I brought were finished. To its credit, the National Enquirer never ran the piece.
“Hard Copy,” however, decided it would. “Hard Copy” correspondent Diane Dimond had reported that authorities were reopening the child molestation case against Michael. She had also made the allegations on L.A. radio station KABC-AM on a morning talk show hosted by Roger Barkley and Ken Minyard. Dimond’s claims were based on the word of a freelance writer named Victor Gutierrez. The story was an outrageous lie. Not one part of it was true. I’d never met the man. There was no tape. Michael never paid me for my silence. He had never molested Jeremy. Period.”
Because Jackson’s lawyers could find no sign of the videotape or the origin of the tale, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Reginald Dunn ruled that Gutierrez was no longer protected by the California Shield Law, and ordered him to name his source.
Gutierrez did not and instead claimed that a number of people, including Elizabeth Taylor and Los Angeles County District Attorney Gil Garcetti, could verify the existence of the videotape (none of these people in fact supported him).
On October 15, 1996, Judge Dunn ruled that Gutierrez’s story was false and that he had acted with malice and was therefore liable for presumed and punitive damages. The amount of which would be determined at a later date. The writer then fled to Mexico.
In October 1997, a legal action to assess the amount of “presumed and punitive damages” to be paid to Michael Jackson by Victor Gutierrez was delayed due to Gutierrez filing for bankruptcy. Mr. Jackson’s lawyers stated that the damages would be assessed and determined and that Gutierrez would not be protected indefinitely by his action.
On April 9, 1998 Michael Jackson won the slander suit against Victor Gutierrez. Superior Court Judge Reginald Dunn ruled that Gutierrez’s story was false and the jury subsequently awarded Jackson $2.7 million in damages.
“Victor Gutierrez claimed to have seen a videotape of Michael having sex with a boy,” said Jackson’s attorney, Zia Modabber. “He claimed he was shown the tape by the boy’s mother. But the tape never existed. The mother testified that no such tape ever existed and that the incident never happened. The guy made the whole thing up, and we sued him for it.”
“We talked to the jurors afterwards,” Modabber said. “They said they wanted to send a message that they were tired of the tabloids telling malicious stories about celebrities for money. They said they hope this will send a message not to do this.”
Gutierrez may appeal, said his attorney, Robert Goldman, who maintained that the case was lost because Gutierrez refused to identify his confidential source.
“Before the trial began, the court ruled that the story was false because Victor refused to reveal his allegedly confidential source for the story,” Goldman said. “The jury was told the story was false without being told why.”
Modabber laughed at that assertion.
“Gutierrez told a D.A. investigator and two witnesses who testified at the trial that the boy’s mother was his source,” Modabber said. “He told anyone who would listen. The only people he would not tell were the ladies and gentlemen of his jury — that’s when he became ethical. Now he’s getting on his high horse saying he’s protecting his sources.”
Paramount, which produces “Hard Copy,” was dismissed from the suit last year. So too were former “Hard Copy” correspondent Diane Dimond and producer Stephen Doran. Jackson is appealing their dismissal from the case.
According to Ruben Rasso, a member of the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office, Gutierrez then fled from the United States and moved to Chile in order to avoid paying Jackson the money.
However Diane Dimond was found not responsible for slander, and Michael Jackson’s lawyers appealed to the California Court of Appeal.
Below is the document dated October 28, 1998 which provides full information about the case handled by the Court of Appeal of the State of California. It is exceptionally interesting as it not only contains all details of the case filed by Michael Jackson against Paramount Pictures Corporation (producer of “Hard Copy”) and Diane Dimond and Doran(reporters on the show), but also provides the actual transcript of the slanderous program and shows the technology of making up lies about Jackson.
The precious text was sent by Shelly to whom I am very grateful for the find . This post will have only some excerpts from the Court of Appeal paper, but even this way it is an absolute thriller to read. Here is a link to the full text: http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/data2/californiastatecases/b114354.pdf .
THE COURT OF APPEAL OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA
Appellant Michael Jackson brought suit against respondents Paramount Pictures Corporation, Diane Dimond, and Stephen Doran alleging that he had been slandered by reports broadcast on the television program “Hard Copy” and in a radio interview with Dimond. During these broadcasts, the search for and purported existence of a videotape showing appellant inappropriately touching an underage boy in a sexual manner were discussed.
The KABC-AM Radio Broadcast
Two over-the-air reports dealt with the alleged videotape. The first occurred on January 9, 1995, on the “The Ken and Barkley Show” broadcast by KABC-AM radio. Respondent Diane Dimond appeared as a guest on the program. To keep the statements made in their proper context, we repeat the entire text of the interview as it related to appellant rather than rely on excerpts:
Q: “You are going to give us the first scoop on Michael Jackson of 1995.”
Dimond: “You know, . . . just when you think the story is going away, it’s not. It . . . the investigation is red hot again and here is the deal. The District Attorneys’ Office, the top investigators within the District Attorneys’ Office are looking for a 27 minute video tape that they believe shows Michael Jackson and a young boy.”
Q: “This is a recent video, or something…”
Dimond: “Yes. . . . It was taken right before Christmas as the story goes and it was recorded by one of Michael Jackson’s own security cameras. He likes, everybody knows that he likes to bug rooms and put cameras up and the whole 9 yards.”
Q: “How do they know about this?”
Dimond: “Well, it’s kind of a convoluted story but the bottom line as I understand it is: someone close to . . Michael Jackson knew of the existence of this tape. It is an x-rated tape, I must tell you and [–]
Q: “It is an x-rated tape?”
Dimond: “It is . . . yes.”
Q: “Of Michael Jackson?”
Dimond: “Truly explicit.”
Q: “It’s what? Michael Jackson and little boy. Are you 100% sure that this tape exists?”
Dimond: “I am as sure as I can possibly be.”
Q: “You have not seen it?”
Dimond: “I have not seen it but one of my best sources on the Michael Jackson story has seen it.”
Q: “Who .. . you have no doubts about.”
Dimond: “I have never had a doubt about this person, ever. I know the District Attorneys’ Office is looking for it because they are calling up reporters saying ‘Have you seen it.’ . . . Do you know where we can get it?”
Q: “Who had it and was showing it? His security people?”
Dimond: “Well, someone close to Michael Jackson found this tape and, in deep concern for the boy involved, gave it to boy’s mother.”
Q: “Uh oh. Should Michael not know that one of his own security cameras was recording what he was doing?”
Dimond: “Oh no, he knew. He absolutely knew.”
Q: “He is asking for trouble. (inaudible).”
Dimond: “You know, I remember way back when, more than a year ago, we interviewed the head of the pedo[ph]ile unit at the FBI in Quantico, Virginia and he said you know the down fall of pedo[ph]iles is that they love to keep a momento of their victims. Or, they love to take pictures or take videos. We don’t know why, but they do this. It is for their own self gratification later but it always comes back to bite them.”
Q: “. . . It looks to me. I think old Mike had better get his checkbook out again.. . . That’s the way this is going to end up.”
Dimond: “I got to tell you, Ken, is what the DA’s office is worried about. There is like a mad scramble to get to this tape before the Jackson camp gets to this tape.”
Q: “Here is what happened. . . . If that tape .. . does exist as you say.”
Q: “Somebody close to Michael Jackson got a hold of it and thought holy, baloney this is worth a lot of money. Look, I’ll split it 50/50 with you and we can get maybe $50 million.”
Dimond: “That could very well be.”
Q: “And he gave it to the mother of the boy?”
Q: “So she has it.”
Dimond: “And, I have to tell you, if my source is correct, who has seen this tape, and again, he always has been. The acts that are being performed on that tape are exactly what the accuser a year ago said Michael Jackson did to him.”
Q: “Well, I mean you don’t need to beat around the bush. What are those acts?”
Dimond: “We are talking about oral sex.”
Q: “Um, hmm. Performed on Michael Jackson or by Michael Jackson?”
Dimond: “By Michael Jackson. . . So, . . . You know, it is going to unfold this week. I am trying to confirm right now, we understand that there might . . . have been copies made of this tape.”
Q: “I bet there was.”
Dimond: “And you know, if . . the Jackson camp gets it, or if it is somehow hushed up or bought off or whatever. I understand there might be a copy of it.”
Q: “Now, wait a minute. After all that happened during 1994 with Michael Jackson. What was a parent letting their kid do with Michael Jackson in his house.”
Q: “Is this up in Santa Barbara?”
Dimond: “No, it was here in Los Angeles.”
Q: “In LA, so it’s our own District Attorney.”
Dimond: “And, I got to tell you, I know, I know many of the investigators within the District Attorneys’ Office. They got the top guys on this. They are not beating around the bush. I got to tell you too, this mother, when she got this tape, made an initial contact to the LAPD Sexual Exploitation Unit and they told her unbelievably. Well, okay, you say you have the tape, just take it to any local precinct and turn it in. And she said to herself. This is not the kind of protection I need, thank you very much, forget it.”
Q: “Well, . . . so why didn’t she?”
Dimond: “Because she is afraid. This is a very powerful man you are talking about. This is a man who has a lot of money to spread around, who can make your life very miserable. He can make –“
Q: “Well, but if you got –“
Dimond: “He can make it wonderful and very miserable.”
Q: “It looks to me that if you got him on tape doing it, he is going to have a pretty hard time.”
Dimond: “One of the DA’s investigators was quoted as saying, ‘if we get this tape and .. . if it shows what we think it shows, we put the handcuffs on Michael Jackson.'”
Q: “Well, Diane. You have to keep us informed on this. I know that Hard Copy will have it on tonight.”
Dimond: “And, listen, if anybody calls you with this tape, let me know.”
Q: “I will let you know.”
Dimond: “I will let you know.”
Later on in the broadcast, they briefly returned to the story:
Q: “Going back to the Michael Jackson video.”
Q: “How did your friend see it? Who showed it to your friend?”
Dimond: “Oh, I just can’t tell you that. That would go –“
Q: “The mother?”
Q: “Well, it had to be either the mother of the boy or [inaudible].”
Q: “Or the security person who gave the tape.”
Dimond: “You guys always have the most insightful questions. I think I better hang up right now.” That concluded The Ken and Barkley Show interview.
After the KABC-AM broadcast and before the “Hard Copy” segment was aired, appellant Michael Jackson’s attorney, Howard Weitzman, sent a letter to Paramount Pictures, stating in part:
- “I learned earlier today that Diane Dimond, one of Paramount’s Hard Copy reporters, was on KABC talk radio this morning and indicated that an untrue and defamatory story about an alleged videotape depicting Michael Jackson engaging in sexual relations with a minor was true, and that she believed such a tape existed. I understand that Ms. Dimond also made claims that the Los Angeles and/or Santa Barbara District Attorneys’ offices are reopening their criminal investigation of Mr. Jackson, based on the purported existence of this videotape.
- Please be informed that Ms. Dimond’s claims regarding the existence of such a videotape are untrue and defamatory, as are her claims regarding the reopening of any criminal investigation concerning Mr. Jackson.”
The “Hard Copy” Broadcast
Later that evening, “Hard Copy” broadcast the following report related to appellant, which again we repeat verbatim.
The speakers on the tape include respondents Dimond and Doran; Victor Gutierrez, the “source” referred to by Dimond in the earlier broadcast; Barry Nolan, an anchorperson for “Hard Copy”; and Kevin Smith, a reporter, who was also seeking to track down the alleged videotape or obtain information about it).
First voice [apparently Kevin Smith]: “[Unintelligible]. then Michael Jackson will be in handcuffs.”
Second voice: “Reports that Michael and a teenage boy have been caught on tape.”
Third Voice [apparently Gutierrez]: “[Unintelligible] . . the tape, there is no doubt about it. It is very graphic.”
Second voice: “Now, investigators are racing to find Michael’s X-rated video.”
Barry Nolan: “New trouble for Michael Jackson tonight. This time police investigators are searching for what they believe is an incriminating x-rated video. Diane Diamond [sic] reports.”
Dimond: “If Michael Jackson thought the new year would bring him a new lease on life Barry, it just isn’t happening that way. Hard Copy has learned that there is now a renewed police investigation into the entertainer’s relationship with young boys. This time, authorities are hot on the trail of an explicit video tape they believe could make their case. Michael Jackson’s videos have been seen around the world. But it is not his music videos authorities are interested in. Nope. Hard Copy can now reveal that investigators from the L.A. District Attorneys office have been working around the clock lately trying to find an x-rated video of the pop superstar which they believe shows him naked and fondling a young boy.”
Gutierrez: “When you [Unintelligible] . . . the tape, there is no doubt about it. It is very graphic.”
Kevin Smith: “If the D.A. gets a hold of the tape and it shows what it’s supposed to show, then Michael Jackson will be in handcuffs.”
Dimond: “The investigators are working for this woman. Assistant D.A. Lauren Weiss. She was once a key player in the Jackson child molestation investigation. Last year, police helped question witnesses brought before a secret grand jury. Now she has her investigators scrambling to find that video tape. Journalist Kevin Smith was questioned by the D.A.’s office.”
Smith: “They are scared. Yes, this is yet another lead which is gonna be snapped up. And disappear mysteriously before they get their hands on it. What they are concerned of is if goes back into the Jackson camp and it will never be seen again.”
Dimond: “It is impossible to independently confirm the existence of the video but several sources including some as far away as London say that this tape is black and white, 27 minutes long, and reportedly recorded by one of Jackson’s own security cameras. Sources also tell Hard Copy the tape was somehow turned over to the Mother of the young boy seen on the video.”
Smith: “The investigator I spoke to said this is what they’ve been waiting for. If they had the tape, that’s all they needed to make an arrest.”
Dimond: “Victor Gutierrez has reported on Michael Jackson for the last decade and has a book about to be published regarding the entertainer’s relationship with various boys. Gutierrez has talked with this young boy’s mother.”
Gutierrez: “And now she is scared. And now, not only that, the District Attorney is trying to get these tapes and I guess through my sources, they already been in contact with the Mother. So, it’s up to the Mother now to make the final decision.”
Smith: “Even if the original copy damages or is destroyed or is hushed up, there has been a copy made and that is what the D.A. is going after.”
Dimond: “Could there actually be such an x-rated tape. Well, late today, Jackson’s lawyer, Howard Weitzman categorically denied the existence of such a video and he says to his knowledge neither the D.A. in Los Angeles or Santa Barbara has reactivated the case. We will have more on this developing story tomorrow. Barry?”
Barry Nolan: “Thanks Diane. . .”
The suit for slander
Appellant Michael Jackson brought suit against Diane Dimond, Stephen Doran, KABC-Radio, Inc., Paramount Pictures Corporation, Roger Barkley, Ken Minyard, and Victor Gutierrez for slander.
Respondents Paramount Pictures, Dimond, and Doran asserted that they had not made any false statements of factand had not acted with actual malice.
To demonstrate truth, respondents set forth the following facts, established in part through the declarations of Jack S. Gonterman, an investigator employed by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, and Thomas Sneddon, the District Attorney of Santa Barbara County.
In December of 1994, the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office received information (1) that a videotape existed depicting appellant engaged in sexual contact with a minor, and (2) that Gutierrez, a freelance journalist who reports on appellant’s activities, had seen such videotape.
Gonterman had been assigned to the investigation of allegations that appellant sexually molested minor children, which investigation, according to Gonterman,”has continuously been an open investigation,” meaning that the office “periodically receives information which [they] evaluate, and where warranted, investigate.”
In early January 1995, Gonterman was instructed to interview Gutierrez “regarding the possible existence of a videotape of [appellant] molesting a minor child.”
On January 5, 1995, Gonterman had a telephone conversation with reporter Kevin Smith in which Smith asked him (Gonterman) whether he was investigating the existence of the alleged videotape. Gonterman told Smith he was intending to conduct some further interviews and asked Smith if he had any knowledge of such a videotape.
Also on January 5, 1995, Gonterman interviewed Gutierrez concerning his knowledge and “[s]hortly thereafter .. discontinued any further efforts in the matter.”
Sneddon handled the investigation of allegations against appellant on behalf of the Santa Barbara District Attorney’s Office.
In December of 1994, he “received information that a video tape existed depicting [appellant] engaged in sexual contact with a minor child.” According to the reports received by Sneddon, Gutierrez had seen the videotape.
At around the same time, Dimond contacted Sneddon to inquire about reports that his office was looking for such videotape or investigating new allegations of molestation against appellant. Sneddon informed her that he “was not at liberty to comment upon such reports” but stated that the investigation was “still open .. . .”
Although Sneddon did not discuss this with Dimond, at the time of their conversation, a decision had already been made to send Gonterman to look into the existence of the tape and procure it if possible. Gonterman’s investigation led to the conclusion that no such videotape could be located or proven to exist. According to Sneddon’s “recollection and belief” this conclusion was reached sometime after the “Hard Copy” broadcast on January 9. [of course it was proven non-existent only after the broadcast]
To demonstrate lack of malice, respondents first set forth facts showing Dimond’s lengthy experience as a reporter. According to Dimond, in late 1994, she heard from fellow journalist Brian Anderson that a new and significant story about appellant was developing. [In a declaration submitted by appellant, Anderson conceded having this conversation with Dimond but explained he was referring to a completely different matter.]
At around that same time, Dimond was contacted by Gutierrez concerning the possible existence of the incriminating videotape.
Thereafter, she contacted Sneddon and his refusal to confirm or deny that his office was attempting to locate such videotape led her to believe that to mean she was on the right track since, according to her understanding and experience, he would have given an outright denial had there been no truth to the story.
She subsequently talked to Kevin Smith, who related that he had been interviewed by Gonterman in connection with the videotape and had been told that Gonterman intended to conduct additional interviews.
On January 7, 1995, the London Sun, a British newspaper, reported that “‘Los Angeles police and legal officials were in a frantic race'” to obtain the alleged videotape was brought to Dimond’s attention.
[The Sun also reported that Gonterman said, “‘I am satisfied the tape exists.'”
Gonterman denied ever saying that he was satisfied that the tape existed.
A competing London newspaper, the Daily Mirror, reported that the Sun’s story was inaccurate. This was also brought to Dimond’s attention. Apparently, the late edition of the Sun did not contain the story, but there is no indication that Dimond or anyone else connected to “Hard Copy” was aware of that fact.]
After being informed of that article, Dimond again spoke to Gutierrez, who claimed to have seen the videotape and agreed to do an on-camera interview.
Gutierrez had provided early and accurate information on a number of stories pertaining to appellant, such as his marriage to and divorce from Lisa Marie Presley.
During the on-camera interview, which occurred on January 8, Gutierrez related that he had met with the mother of the boy involved; that she had attempted to contact the Los Angeles Police Department and was not taken seriously; that she was told to take the tape to any police station; that the tape was “very graphic”; that the District Attorney’s Office had been in contact with the mother; that appellant’s “people” were trying to find the tape; that the tape was recorded three weeks before Christmas; and that the tape was in black and white.
All this led to undisputed fact number 38, the key fact on lack of malice: “Based on Mr. Gutierrez’s long track record as a reliable source, coupled with the other reports Ms. Dimond received from Mr. Anderson, Mr. Sneddon and Mr. Smith, inter alia, Ms. Dimond believed Mr. Gutierrez’s information to be accurate.”
Respondents in their statement of undisputed facts went on to relate that Doran’s involvement in the story was limited to the on-camera interview of Kevin Smith, who was not named as a defendant and who made no statements alleged in the complaint to be false. Doran was not involved in the factual investigation, editing, or decision to broadcast the story.
Appellant Michael Jackson’s Opposition
The one significant area of dispute between the parties centered on fact number 38 concerning Dimond’s belief in Gutierrez’s accuracy. In this regard, appellant’s position was supported by the testimony of Brian Anderson’s wife, Lisa Marlowe.
According to her testimony, sometime during the weekend of January 7 and 8, 1995, Dimond called Anderson from whom she had first heard rumors about a new development concerning appellant. Anderson was not home, so Dimond spoke with Marlowe.
Dimond asked Marlowe whether she or her husband had heard the story about a video depicting appellant with a young boy. Marlowe replied she had not and stated, “‘That sounds like B.S.,'” to which Dimond responded, “‘That’s what I thought.'” Marlowe also said, “‘Don’t tell me this came from Victor [Gutierrez], because he never mentioned it to us'” and “‘This sounds like a setup,’ because why would this surface all of a sudden” to which Dimond’s reply was “‘Yeah, that’s what I thought.'”
Appellant’s opposition was further supported by the declaration of Lauren Weis, Head Deputy of the Torrance Branch of the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office, and Gonterman’s deposition testimony.
Weis learned that Gutierrez was claiming to have seen a videotape of appellant engaged in sexual conduct with a young boy, and informed Sneddon. They jointly decided to instruct Gonterman to interview Gutierrez.
Weis also asked Gonterman to speak to Kevin Smith, who had called and left a message asking about the videotape. During that interview, Smith told Gonterman he had heard that Weis believed he had the tape which Gonterman told him was not true.
Smith also told Gonterman that the tape was 27 minutes long and was recorded in black and white. After Gonterman spoke to Gutierrez and Smith, which interviews lasted a total of approximately one hour, nothing morewas done to search for a videotape.
The counter statement of facts sets out a number of actions Dimond could have taken, but did not take, to check out the story, such as asking Gutierrez the name of the hotel where he allegedly saw the tape or the name of the mother whose son was supposedly involved; insisting that Gutierrez produce a copy of the tape; talking to Gonterman about his investigative efforts; obtaining another source for the story; or contacting someone at the Sun about their videotape story.
Concerning Doran, the counterstatement sets forth the following facts to establish his culpability: that he failed to ask Smith the names of his sources, that, according to his testimony, he “did not care who Smith’s sources were,” that he “didn’t particularly care” whether the videotape existed, that his job was simply to “get a good sound bite,” and that he “entertained the possibility that the videotape never existed, but he never shared this with Dimond” or others connected to the program.
The Trial Court’s Order
…The Court finds that Plaintiff has not shown the ability to prove actual malice by clear and convincing evidence.
It is true that Dimond was merely parroting what she had heard from “sources” but, as we have seen, under common law, it is no defense to an action for defamation to say that one is merely accurately repeating rumor or a statement made by a third party.
The court held in New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, supra, 376 U.S. 254, that “constitutional guarantees require . . . a federal rule that prohibits a public official from recovering damages for a defamatory falsehood relating to his official conduct unless he proves that the statement was made with ‘actual malice’ — that is, with knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not.”
Purporting to apply the New York Times Co. v. Sullivan malice standard, the Louisiana Supreme Court concluded that defendant had broadcast false information about plaintiff “recklessly, though not knowingly.” (St. Amant v. Thompson, supra, 390 U.S. at p. 730.)
In the present case, Dimond did more than profess her good faith. Not only did she state that she believed Gutierrez to be accurate, she backed up her statement with evidence of his reliability as a source on other stories pertaining to appellant even some that initially seemed far-fetched. In addition, she established a palpable reason to believe the story about the videotape due to the fact that the District Attorney’s Office was searching for a tape such as the one Gutierrez described (as confirmed by Kevin Smith, who had spoken with Gonterman, and the “no comment” reply from Sneddon), and the story describing the videotape which appeared in the London Sun. Moreover, the report did not come out of the blue. Appellant had been the subject of a lengthy criminal investigation by the District Attorney’s Office which was widely reported in the press, and had settled a lawsuit in which allegations of sexual molestation were made.
We agree with the court’s assessment.The New York Times Co. v. Sullivan standard does not require that the reporter hold a devout belief in the truth of the story being reported, only that he or she refrain from either reporting a story he or she knows to be false or acting in reckless disregard of the truth.
The statements to Marlowe indicate that Dimond had doubts, not that she “knew” Gutierrez’s story to be untrue. A healthy skepticism is a normal part of a reputable journalist’s makeup and leads him or her to obtain corroborating evidence to back up a source’s story. Dimond did not act recklessly in the face of her doubts, but instead sought out corroborating evidence through her conversations with Smith and Sneddon, each of whom confirmed, in their own way, that they had heard a similar report.
The story in the Sun provided further corroboration. It may be that the sources for the information relayed by the District Attorney’s Office, Smith, and the Sun can be traced directly or indirectly to Gutierrez, as appellant now claims, but there is no evidence to suggest that Dimond had any reason to know or suspect this at the time. The statements attributed to Dimond by Marlowe evidence neither knowledge of falsity nor reckless disregard of the truth.
The judgment is affirmed.
Let me ask a question after all that – if Diane Dimond got away with her lies about naked MJ ‘fondling a young boy’ so easily, could she have the decency to at least apologize to Michael Jackson for all the harm done to him by her groundless accusations?
The reaction to Diane Dimond’s lies was a stormy one:
MINDEN, NV (PRWEB)
January 13, 2004
Michael Jackson fans from around the world have expressed outrage at the recent announcement that NBC’s “Today” show has signed Court TV journalist Diane Dimond as an analyst. Dimond joins the “Today” show this week to provide reports pertaining to the Michael Jackson case after signing a contract reportedly worth several million dollars.
In a recent interview, Dimond stated, “He [Jackson] is like Jesus Christ. I’ve become the vilified one, because I’ve dared to report it. I don’t give my opinion. I put things in perspective.” [and this is said instead of the apology?]
Sweet, Editor of http://www.OnlineLegalReview.com and co-host of a Jackson-related radio show, recently wrote an open letter to producers of Court TV and the “Today” show calling for Dimond’s “immediate and mandatory resignation” because of her “inexcusable disregard for objectivity, integrity, and professionalism.” Sweet contends that Dimond has “single handedly made a mockery of a Network (Court TV) that built its reputation based on investigative and factual based reporting.”
“Diane’s experience and talents will be a tremendous asset to our coverage,” said “Today” Executive Producer Tom Touchet.
“Someone really should tell Mr. Touchet that he just hired Diane Dimond, not (ABC’s) Diane Sawyer,” Sweet says. “Dimond’s reporting has a lot less to do with her journalistic skills and more to do with her highly publicized connection with the D.A.” Sweet was perhaps referring to recent reports that questioned the extent of the relationship between Dimond and Santa Barbara District Attorney Thomas Sneddon.
Dimond and Hard Copy Producer Stephen Doran were party to a lawsuit Jackson filed in 1997 against journalist Victor Gutierrez. Gutierrez told Dimond he had seen a videotape of Jackson having sex with a young boy. Jackson attorney Zia Modabber stated “He claimed he was shown the tape by the boy’s mother. But the tape never existed. The mother testified that the incident never happened.”
Dimond and Doran were later dismissed from the case, in which Jackson won a $2.7 million judgement when Gutierrez failed to produce the alleged videotape.
Shortly after the verdict, Gutierrez left the U.S. for his home country of Chile, but has recently told several newspapers that he has signed an exclusive 4 month contract with NBC’s Dateline. NBC Publicist Caryn Mautner refused to confirm or deny the contractual status of either Gutierrez or Dimond on their Network.
In November 2003, when Jackson was accused of child molestation for a second time, Gutierrez began giving interviews about the case to Chilean newspapers. He claimed that the new set of allegations validated the contents of his book and as a result, Jackson had defamed his character and now owed him money. Gutierrez even went so far as to say that Jackson’s 2,700-acre ranch would soon be his.
During an interview with La Cuarta, Gutierrez alleged that Santa Barbara District Attorney Tom Sneddonhad contacted him about being a potential witness in the current case against Jackson. A week later, a member of the District Attorney’s office contacted La Cuarta to refute those claims.
In early 2004, Gutierrez was offered $25, 000 a month from Dateline NBC to cover the Jackson case. He accepted the offer and became a consulting producerfor the news program.
In 2005 Dateline NBC aired a report entitled “Inside the Michael Jackson Case”; the credits reveal that Gutierrez was the consulting producer for the program.
Not surprisingly, Inside the Michael Jackson Case was heavily slanted in favour of the prosecution’s version of events and was laced with numerous falsehoods, half-truths and innuendos. Again, Gutierrez is a proven liar, particularly when it comes to Michael Jackson.
Was NBC intentionally trying to taint the jury pool by hiring a man who clearly had an axe to grind with Jackson to produce a program about his case? How this man has enough credibility to have a job with ANY network is beyond belief.
And now it is DIANE DIMOND who is releasing a book about the media credibility named BE CAREFUL WHO YOU TRUST?