Is Nancy Grace in trouble again with accusations of inaccurate and sensational reporting?
A libel lawsuit filed this month against the HLN host is just one more case where Grace’s reporting garnered negative attention accompanied by lawsuits. This new case of libel and invasion of privacy follows challenges to her claims that Richard Ricci kidnapped Elizabeth Smart (he didn’t) and another libel action against her filed by Michael Skakel, convicted of murdering Martha Moxley.
In this most recent case, she likened a man, Ben Seibert, to a “serial killer” and a “selfie stalker” and never apologized after reporting he was linked to a break-in. A woman in Colorado called police after finding Seibert’s photo on her phone and thinking that an intruder took the photo in her home. After a police investigation, it was determined that there never even was a break-in. The photo was Seibert’s Facebook photo.
Even though the man was cleared back in February of any relation to the alleged home break-in in Colorado, when he was in California at the time, Grace still reported on the man and the “selfie stalker” case as recently as September, the lawyer for the falsely accused says.
The photo was released by Denver Crime Stoppers and then Grace reported on the photo and the case at length. “This is a textbook serial killer’s calling card,” Nancy Grace said of the man, the Denver Post reported the lawsuit says.
Problem is Seibert was quickly cleared of any involvement and the police discovered that there hadn’t been a break-in.
Seibert wasn’t even in the state when the alleged break in happened. He contacted the police after seeing his photo in the news. “It was not clear how his picture got onto the woman’s phone,” the Denver Post reported. In February, Denver’s 9News reported that Crime Stoppers alerted the media that Seibert was innocent in the alleged break-in.
iMediaEthics viewed a copy of Seibert’s lawsuit against Nancy Grace, Turner Broadcasting System and Crime Stoppers Inc.
Seibert’s lawsuit states that he sent two cease and desist letters calling for Grace to stop reporting on him. He is suing her for “defamation per se and per quod, invasion of privacy, and outrageous conduct.”
Grace began reporting on Seibert Feb. 10, 2014, calling him a “creepy guy” and that he took the selfie in the woman’s home after breaking in.
Her segment was then posted to her program’s social media and online sites, where commenters slammed Seibert.
Nancy Grace’s Twitter still shows a tweet about the “selfie stalker.”
The lawsuit states, “In February 2014, Grace was told by police, media, and her own viewers that her broadcast was false, defamatory and must stop, but she continued to publish it.”
“Based on the public’s ugly response to Mr. Seibert, all defendants made publications that brought hatred and contempt upon Mr. Seibert and so the publications amount to defamation,” Seibert’s lawsuit says.
The lawsuit calls for “excess of $100,000” and a jury trial.
He’s also suing Metro Denver Crime Stoppers which released the photo. Metro Denver Crime Stoppers’ board president Mike Mills said in an interview with the Associated Press that the crime stoppers group removed the photo of Seibert from social media and its website.
Seibert’s lawyer, John Pineau told Colorado TV news KDVR “We are interested based on the history of the research we’ve uncovered – we’re pretty confident there are other victims – and so we’re asking for other victims to come forward.”
iMediaEthics has written to Nancy Grace’s representatives at CNN and Turner Broadcast Systems for comment. We’ve left a message with Denver Crime Stoppers.