LA Prosecutor Allegedly Defamed Woman to Shield ACORN Saboteur
LOS ANGELES (CN) - A woman says in court that a Los Angeles County prosecutor defamed her on his blog to silence her claims that conservative activist James O'Keefe had wiretapped a congresswoman's office.
Nadia Naffe sued Deputy District Attorney John Patrick Frey who has purportedly known (nonparty) O'Keefe since the muckraker worked as an intern in the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office as a law school student.
She also names as defendants Frey's wife, Deputy District Attorney Christi Frey; District Attorney Steve Cooley and the county of Los Angeles.
Naffe, a reported Harvard graduate, says she too was a friend and colleague of O'Keefe's until "a frightening incident" in October 2011 when O'Keefe allegedly drugged her in an attempt to sexually assault her in a renovated New Jersey barn.
At that time, O'Keefe was on three years probation for entering federal property during an undercover sting on U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu, D-La., the complaint says.
A few weeks later, O'Keefe offered to pay her off in return for her silence, according to the complaint.
Naffe says that O'Keefe threatened to sue when she rejected his offer.
After filing a criminal harassment complaint against O'Keefe, Naffe says the late conservative commentator Andrew Breitbart, whom she describes as a "personal friend," attempted to distort the "barn incident" to discredit her.
She says she challenged Breitbart on Twitter and on her personal blog.
Between February and March 2012, Frey then published dozens of "threatening, harassing, and defamatory statements" on Twitter describing Naffe as "a liar, illiterate, callous, self-absorbed, despicable, a smear artist and absurd," according to her complaint.
Naffe says Frey defamed her because he knew that she was planning to hand over evidence that O'Keefe had wiretapped the office of U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Los Angeles, and the OneUnited offices where the congresswoman's husband worked.
Frey wanted to keep this evidence out of the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office to "protect the reputations" of O'Keefe and Breitbart, according to the complaint.
In March, O'Keefe sought an injunction against Naffe to stop her from publishing settlement documents with Isabel Santa, a former member of O'Keefe's Project Veritas.
Santa reportedly won a $20,000 settlement after Project Veritas fired her for blowing the lid on O'Keefe's alleged plan to embarrass a CNN reporter by inviting her on a boat with hidden cameras and sex props.
Naffe says she threatened to contact the District Attorney's Office and report Frey for misusing government time by blogging and Tweeting about her legal disputes with O'Keefe, including blog posts about legal action O'Keefe took against Naffe.
Frey allegedly retaliated by publishing 200 pages of a 2005 deposition transcript between Naffe and a former employer on his blog, "Patterico's Pontifications."
The published transcript included Naffe's Social Security number, date of birth, maiden name, family address and medical information, the complaint says.
Naffe says that Frey represented that he had obtained the document from the federal Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system.
Frey allegedly wrote on his blog: "I think I may lay off Nadia and give her a chance to realize she has made a mistake in threatening to report me for totally bogus reasons."
"She may just be starting to realize that she has made a series of mistakes that could land her in trouble," Frey wrote, according to the complaint. "Maybe she's reconsidering."
Though Frey allegedly removed the transcript, Naffe says that her personal information was "preserved for several weeks or months in an Internet web cache." Since then, people have allegedly fraudulently used Naffe's Social Security number.
Naffe accuses Frey of using his position as a prosecutor "to advance his personal political agenda to increase his audience, and to amplify his harassment against political enemies."
Frey also uses his official title as a deputy district attorney to lend credibility to his published statements, according to the complaint.
Writing on "Patterico's Pontifications" on Thursday, Frey said he had not seen the lawsuit but noted that a political activist named Neal Rauhauser had introduced Naffe to her attorney Jason Leiderman.
"As regular readers are well aware, Rauhauser has long wanted me sued, fired, and so forth for several reasons - one of which is the fact that I have defended James O'Keefe on this blog," Frey wrote.
In an email to Courthouse News, Frey's attorney Kenneth White called Naffe's complaint "frivolous and frankly bizarre."
"It's a politically motivated abuse of the legal system and an effort to censor speech protected by the First Amendment," White wrote. "I'm proud to join Ron Coleman [with Goetz Fitzpatrick of New York, N.Y.] in defending Mr. and Mrs. Frey pro bono to vindicate the important free speech principles at issue. We look forward to addressing the complaint's manifest defects in court."
O'Keefe shot to fame in 2009 after releasing undercover videos he shot in several offices of the nonprofit ACORN, short for Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now.
Many media reports characterized O'Keefe as posing as a pimp since he wore "stereotypical 1970s pimp garb" in the opening and closing scenes of certain videos he released, but he wore a shirt and tie in the actual encounters, identifying himself as the concerned boyfriend of a purported prostitute, according to the California Attorney General's Office.
The videos prompted outrage after being broadcast on Fox News and BigGovernment.com, and lawmakers voted to freeze funding to ACORN, which was known for voter drives and organizing in poor communities. The nonprofit closed up shop after filing for Chapter 7 liquidation in late 2010.
Naffe is represented by Jason Leiderman of Leiderman Devine of Ventura, Calif. She seeks damages for violation of her First Amendment rights, public disclosure invasion of privacy, false light invasion of privacy, defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence and negligent supervision.
Naffe also made tort claims against the Frey and Cooley in April after Naffe's harassment complaint against O'Keefe was dismissed late last year for lack of jurisdiction.
Neither representatives for O'Keefe nor the Los Angeles County Counsel's Office immediately responded to emailed requests for comment.