Tags: Oprah | Sued | for | Defamation

Oprah Sued for Defamation

Wednesday, 08 November 2000 12:00 AM

Reports Wednesday said three Worcester, Mass., women insist they were never battered and have suffered humiliation as a result of an edition of Winfrey's show that was broadcast in April.

In a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Worcester, Tracy Hoaglund, Margaret Mitchell and Gloria Toney claim they were defamed and suffered emotional distress after being wrongly portrayed in a segment of Winfrey's show about domestic violence. Each woman is seeking more than $75,000 in damages.

Attorney Jeffery K. Florence, representing the women, said his clients had been recruited for the taping of a segment of the show focusing on a computer training class they were attending at a Worcester organization, Yellow Brick Road, operated by Jody Beldotti.

"Each plaintiff believed that her segment would consist of a testimonial for the training class and their own success story," the suit said.

When the show was broadcast April 24, Hoaglund, Mitchell and Toney were presented as "battered women who had benefited from Ms. Beldotti's work with battered women."

On the show, Winfrey presented Beldotti with an award for her work to the cause of helping victims of domestic violence.

The women said that since the show aired, they have been subjected to "contempt or ridicule" from friends and relatives who thought they'd either lied or had hidden pasts.

The suit alleged Winfrey and her production company, Harpo Entertainment Group, failed to properly investigate the personal history of the women and "presented them in a false light as victims of domestic abuse," according to the Worcester Telegram and Gazette.

Florence said that the show has refused to run a retraction and had since aired the segment a second time.

The only comment from Winfrey and Harpo Entertainment was that they "have no knowledge of this lawsuit."

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Reports Wednesday said three Worcester, Mass., women insist they were never battered and have suffered humiliation as a result of an edition of Winfrey's show that was broadcast in April. In a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Worcester, Tracy Hoaglund, Margaret...
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Wednesday, 08 November 2000 12:00 AM
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