by German Lopez
Judge orders $100,000 in damages for newspaper’s defaming of police officer
A federal judge announced Wednesday that the Milford-Miami Advertiser, a Gannett-owned suburban weekly newspaper, was guilty of defaming police officer James Young. Judge Michael Barrett affirmed the jury’s award for $100,000 in damages.In an article published on May 27, 2010, the Milford-Miami Advertiser wrote that “Young had sex with a woman while on the job.” The accusation was found to be incorrect.According to court documents, Young was initially fired from his job in 1997 after an internal investigation found semen in Marcey Phillips’s home after Phillips accused Young of forcing her to perform oral sex on him while Young was on duty. But a DNA investigation found that the semen found in Phillips’s home did not belong to Young, and Young was eventually given his job back.The court documents say the Milford-Miami Advertiser article was written by Theresa Herron, the newspaper’s editor, but online archives of the article “Cop’s suspension called best move for city” say the article was written by Kellie Geist. Update: Herron wrote the section of the article that went to trial, while Geist wrote the rest.Young testified that Herron never attempted to contact him before publishing the article, according to court documents. Herron testified that she did not fully read the documents for Young’s case, but she said she knew about the DNA testing and did not think it was important to the story.When contacted by CityBeat, Herron said she did not feel comfortable discussing the case. The story was first reported by Courthouse News Service. Gannett also owns the Cincinnati Enquirer. The Milford-Miami Advertiser covers community news in Miami Township and Milford, and it is part of the Cincinnati.com network.