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Candidate Claims Denver Post Defamed Her

DENVER (CN) - A former candidate for City Council claims in court that The Denver Post defamed her during her 2011 campaign, with the headline: "Denver city council candidate caught up in plagiarism charge."

Michele Fry sued the Post and its reporter Kurtis Lee in a pro se complaint in Denver County Court.

Fry claims the headlineto Lee's March 15, 2011 story is defamatory because Fry was never charged with a crime, and "plagiarism is not a crime or an illegal act in Colorado."

In her complaint, Fry offers three synonyms that would not suggest that she "had committed a crime or been accused of an illegal act: allegation, claim, or scandal. Fry says the Post "intentionally used the word 'charge' instead of the other words ..."

She claims the Post published another Kurtis Lee article on March 16, which contained the same opening sentence but a different headline: "Denver council candidate plagiarized answers on questionnaire." Fry points out that the second headline does not use the word "charge."

In its March 15, 2011 story, the Post reported: "In outlining what she would do to foster economic activity and employment, over half of Fry's response was ripped verbatim from a National League of Cities Economic Development pamphlet that presents bullet points as to the role of elected officials in economic development.

"On a separate question, asking candidates what approach they would take to streamline and improve the process of economic development in Denver, Fry's entire response was lifted from the National League of Cities pamphlet."

The Post reported in that article that Fry denied plagiarizing, but then "recanted."

In her lawsuit, Fry claims the first headline exposed her to "hatred or contempt" from her colleagues, prospective employers and the public at large. She says the Post refused her demand for a retraction.

Fry lost the race to Councilwoman Mary Beth Susman.

Fry declined to comment for this story.

She seeks damages for defamation and negligence.

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