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Cop Claims Detroit News Defamed Her

DETROIT (CN) - In fallout from the Kwame Kilpatrick scandal, a Detroit police officer claims The Detroit News defamed her by repeatedly referring to her as a "stripper" and "exotic dancer," falsely intimating that she "was a police officer and working as a stripper during the same time period."

Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick resigned under a hail of corruption charges that included allegations of a wild party at the governor's mansion, an $8.4 million settlement with police whistleblowers, the shooting death of a woman who allegedly danced at the mansion, and criminal charges. Kilpatrick eventually pleaded guilty to two felony counts of obstruction of justice and was sentenced to jail. A succeeding investigation resulted in multiple federal charges of tax fraud and wire fraud.

In the new civil lawsuit in Wayne County Court, Paytra Williams sued The Detroit News and its reporter Charlie LeDuff.

Williams claims the defendants defamed her in an April 20, 2010 story that ran under the headline, "Police Officer who moonlighted as a stripper testifies in Greene Case."

The complaint states: "The title alone is defamatory because it leads the reader to believe that Paytra Williams was a police officer and working as a stripper during the same time period. These statements are known to be false and are defamatory and or made with reckless disregard for the truth of the matter asserted. The article goes on to defame Ms. Williams at least five more times as set forth below:

"'Paytra Williams, a Detroit police officer who moonlighted as an exotic dancer under the name Almond Joy.'

"'While moonlighting as a stripper, Williams also was assigned to the office of Jerry Oliver, then chief of police.

'Williams was transferred to the Kilpatrick's [sic] executive protection unit.'

"'Both danced at the All-Star gentlemen's club on Eight Mile Road, a hangout for all-stars of the Detroit underworld.

"'Billingsley is the father of one of Williams' children.'"

Williams says the defendants defamed her again in an April 22, 2010 story that stated: "'Whatever the truth, there is no doubt that Williams has had a checkered police career often in close proximity to powerful men.'"

Williams says she requested a retraction and gave the News a reasonable time to do so. She says the News and LeDuff knew or should have known the statements were defamatory, or published them with reckless disregard of their truth or falsity.

She says they defamed as a private person and as a public official, and imputed "lack of chastity," "bad or immoral conduct," and "the commission of a criminal offense."

She seeks damages for libel.

She is represented by Marvin Barnett.

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