Attention psychic tipsters: Make unwarranted accusations, prepare to be sued and lose

We have a resolution to the story about the psychic who cried “MASS GRAVE” and was sued for defamation.

Here is the backstory: In June 2011, a woman who claimed to get her information from angels, called in a tipfollow to the Liberty County Texas sheriff’s office that sent the FBI and officials looked for buried bodies at a home in Hardin. The media heavily covered the story showing the house as the search was underway. The tipster knew details about the house but there were no bodies. She was never charged because the police concluded she did not have criminal or malicious intent. The home owners sued the woman for defamation.

‘Psychic’ who reported mass grave north of Houston must pay $7 million – Houston Chronicle.

A self-described psychic who triggered a media frenzy when she told authorities a Liberty County couple had a mass grave on their property has been ordered to pay the couple $6.8 million.

A Dallas County judge issued the judgment May 7 against Presley “Rhonda” Gridley, the sole remaining defendant in a lawsuit filed a year ago.

Gridley, 50, failed to appear in court May 7 for the bench trial before Judge Carl Ginsberg in the 193rd State District Court, records stated.

Ginsberg found that Gridley had made defamatory statements about Bankson and Charlton on June 6, 2011, when she volunteered false information to the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office, claiming that a mass grave containing dismembered bodies was at the plaintiffs’ home.

The defendant’s false statement injured the plaintiffs’ reputation and exposed them to public hatred, contempt, ridicule and financial injury, the complaint stated.

The award was $3 million Bankson and $3,849,000 to Charlton, plus interest from 2011.

Good. This case needs to be broadcast far and wide. There is no conclusion about psychic powers existing at all but there is a firm standing that they have NEVER been useful in solving crimes, finding missing persons or providing police with information they could not obtain by regular means. This accusation against the couple was irresponsible in the extreme and while the psychic may have thought she was doing good, a precedent must be set so that psychic tipsters are dissuaded from pulling these stunts. Get the message. You are NOT helping.

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  4 comments for “Attention psychic tipsters: Make unwarranted accusations, prepare to be sued and lose

  1. Bob
    June 13, 2013 at 4:20 PM

    I read the headline and had an image of grumpy cat saying, “Good.” And then I saw your commentary. :)

  2. Dave
    June 17, 2013 at 8:49 AM

    Perhaps they should have sued the Sheriff’s office for blindly accepting “Psychic” tips as anything other than hearsay or crank calls.

  3. James Hammond
    June 18, 2013 at 12:45 PM

    Dave,

    They did initially sue both the Sheriff and all the media companies covering the story credulously (see the related posts). It seems the standard procedure for lawyers is to sue everybody in sight and then drop defendants as they settle or as it becomes clear that the suit cannot succeed. The media were let off by the couple (reasons not given as far as I can tell, but there may have been a private settlement, note of apology, etc).

    –James

  4. Will
    June 20, 2013 at 2:03 PM

    Looking at my bottle of crystal clear water, I see Gridley filing for bankruptcy.

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