True-Crime Author Teaches Weekly a Lesson
SEATTLE (CN) - The Seattle Weekly defamed true-crime author Ann Rule in an article accusing her of "sloppy storytelling" in her book about a woman who killed her husband - and failed to disclose that the article's author was the jailed woman's fiancé, Rule claims in court.
Rule's book "Heart Full of Lies" is about Liysa Northon, who stood trial and ultimately pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter for killing her husband.
Rick Swart, a "self-described journalist," pitched the Weekly an article he wrote about alleged fabrications in the book, Rule says in her King County complaint.
Rule claims the paper published the front-page article, "unedited," under the title "Ann Rule's Sloppy Storytelling" but did not reveal that Swart and Northon were engaged.
Swart and Northon are now married, according to the complaint.
Rule sued Seattle Weekly, Swart, and Weekly editor Caleb Hannan.
"The article contained innumerable inaccuracies and untruths concerning the testimony and evidence in the trial of Liysa Northon and also included various unfounded personal attacks on Rule," according to the complaint.
It adds: "The article contains numerous false statements concerning the contents of the book, and Rule's researching and interviewing techniques. The article also contains other inflammatory comments including 'evil,' 'sociopath,' 'bunch of lies,' and 'straight out slander.'"
Rule claims in the lawsuit that the Weekly and editor Hannan "failed to conduct any due diligence at all on the story" and admitted this "substantial oversight" in a published update on the article.
Rule says a good editor would have discovered Swart was Northon fiancé and questioned his objectivity.
"At the time of the article's solicitation and publication, Swart and Northon were engaged, and any meaningful inquiry by Seattle Weekly or Hannon should have discovered this significant source of bias," the complaint states.
"Because of the article's publication and defamatory content, Rule has been significantly damaged personally and professionally."
Rule seeks damages for defamation and invasion of privacy, and false light.
She is represented by Anne Bremner.