Parents Say Olympic Heroine Defamed Them
CLEVELAND (CN) - The parents of Olympic sprinter Tianna Madison, who won gold in the 4x100 meter relay this summer, claim in court that their daughter defamed them.
Robert and Jo Ann Madison, of Elyria, sued their daughter and her husband John Bartoletta, of Tampa, Fla., in the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas.
Tianna Madison ran the first leg on the relay team that set a world record and won gold in this year's London Olympics.
Her parents claim that Bartoletta told them on March 17 this year "that Tianna Madison would be filing a lawsuit against Robert Madison and Jo Ann Madison for 'misappropriation of funds and fraud based on her power of attorney' and that he had hired a bodyguard to protect Tianna Madison."
The parents say they "were shocked by these unfounded and untrue allegations." They say that they have not been sued, or served, with such a lawsuit.
The parents say their daughter sent them an email on July 21, containing an article Tianna had written. "Tianna Madison indicated that the article had been sent to 'multiple news agencies' as well as 'all social media sites,'" according to the complaint.
In the article, which the parents say was sent to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, their daughter "falsely and defamatorily asserted" that her parents had "engaged in fraudulent behavior directed toward her and her finances, misused and/or otherwise misappropriated finances belonging to her, and falsely asserted that the plaintiffs ... [had] invited a boy into their home in the presence of defendant Tianna Madison, who had previously molested her, and that at the time of such invitation, plaintiffs Robert Madison and Jo Ann Madison had known of the molestation," according to the complaint.
It continues: "Until this article appeared, plaintiffs Robert Madison and Jo Ann Madison were not aware of any molestation of defendant Tianna Madison, and at present, they remain unaware of whether defendant Tianna Madison was ever molested or not."
The Madisons claim they met with a reporter from the Plain Dealer who said he had received the article from Tianna but that the paper would not publish it because it believed the content was libelous.
The parents claim that Tianna contacted them again in August and told them "via text, that after the Olympic Games, she would 'break the story' of the Madison's 'selfish, controlling and utterly abusive ways and treatment' of her, and that 'it is going to be BRUTAL.'"
The complaint continues: "On August 12, 2012, Tampa Bay Online published an article about defendant Tianna Madison and her Olympic success. The article specifically mentioned that defendant Tianna Madison endured financial hardship and asserted that she was molested as a child.
"On August 14, 2012, defendant Tianna Madison, using defendant John Bartoletta's cell phone, again indicated to plaintiffs Robert Madison and Jo Ann Madison that defendant Tianna Madison would be speaking to 'the national media' and 'a major network' about her parents. In the same text message, Tianna Madison referred to plaintiffs Robert Madison and Jo Ann Madison as 'abusive,' 'controlling,' and 'a fraud.'"
The parents claim that their daughter spread the false allegations all over their home town, including "various city officials in Elyria, Ohio ... including but not limited to the Mayor of Elyria, various track officials including ... defendant Tianna Madison's track coach, to Marita Below, the daughter of the Elyria High School track coach, and to countless other presently unidentified individuals, news organizations and social media sites."
They seek punitive damages for defamation.
They are represented by Scott Schooler, with Forbes, Fields and Associates, of Cleveland.