‘Bikini Barista’ Jolts Current TV

     TACOMA (CN) – A former barista says Current TV defamed her by posting her photo on an Internet article about “bikini baristas” who were arrested and charged with prostitution. The married woman says she was not arrested, never worked at that espresso stand, never was charged with prostitution, and has “absolutely no connection whatsoever with the news story in question.”



     Kendra Connor sued Current TV and its contributor Joshua Glassman in Pierce County Court.
     Current TV was founded by former Vice President Al Gore in 2005. Citing the Current website, Connor says the station defines itself as “‘the world’s leading peer-to-peer news and information network. Current is the only 24/7 cable and satellite television network and Internet site produced and programmed in collaboration with its audience.'”
     Connor describes Glassman as “a very active contributor to Current TV, where he went by the name of ‘Awesome Josh.’ Mr. Glassman made over 2,600 contributions to Current. He was awarded many badges by Current, rising to ‘Level III Contributor’ and ‘Level III Commentator.” She says Current called him “a ‘one person news crew.'”
     (Current awards “level badges” to contributors. “Current awards ‘special abilities’ to those with higher badge levels, such as ‘the power to recommend content’ on the Current website,” according to the complaint.
     Connor says she was defamed in Glassman’s Sept. 26, 2009 story, “5 bikini baristas charged with prostitution.” She says the article itself “appears to have come from the Associated Press,” but that “Mr. Glassman attached to the article (which appeared on the Current Internet website) a large photograph of the plaintiff”. (Parentheses in complaint.)
     The complaint continues: “The photograph was taken of Ms. Connor years earlier when she was a minor and working as a barista. The juxtaposition of Ms. Connor’s picture, the headline and the content of the article which dealt with criminal prostitution charges brought against 5 bikini baristas at the Grab-n-Go Espresso stand in Everett, Washington – clearly and unequivocally associated Ms. Connor with illegal and immoral activity. Ms. Connor, however, was not one of the 5 bikini baristas arrested for prostitution. In fact, Ms. Connor has never been charged with prostitution, has never worked at the Grab-n-Go Espresso stand and has absolutely no connection whatsoever with the news story in question.
     “Ms. Connor first became aware of the Current TV article bearing her photograph on or about January 9, 2010 when she received a call from her fiancée (now her husband) alerting her to the fact that her picture was on the Internet as an accused prostitute. Ms. Connor’s friends and acquaintances, family (including her grandmother), co-workers and current employer saw the Current TV story bearing Ms. Connor’s picture. Ms. Connor has had to repeatedly deny being charged with prostitution. The use of Ms. Connor’s picture in a story and headline on bikini baristas being criminally charged with committing acts of prostitution has caused Ms. Connor significant shame and embarrassment, and has severely damaged her reputation and good name.”
     Connor seeks damages for defamation, false light, appropriation of likeness and negligent infliction of emotional distress. She is represented by Michael Wrenn of Seattle.

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