Defamed All Over Town, Mississippian Says

     JACKSON, Miss. (CN) — A Mississippi man sued four TV, radio and newspaper companies, claiming they defamed him as a sexual assault and robbery suspect in false stories that cost him his job and sent him to jail for a week.
     Darius Williams says the defendants identified him in July 2015 as an 18-year-old whom police were seeking for breaking into a home and sexually assaulting and robbing the victim. His photo accompanied each story, along with a “crime stoppers” hotline number for tips, Williams says in the July 13 complaint in Hinds County Court.
     He sued Media General Operations dba WJTV, Raycom Media dba WLBT dba MS News Now, Jackson Hearst-Argyle Television dba WAPT, and Gannett River States Publishing Corp. dba the Clarion Ledger.
     “Following the broadcast, Mr. Williams received numerous telephone calls from family members, friends, and coworkers advising Mr. Williams that he was wanted for charges of burglary and sexual battery and/or sexual assault,” the complaint states.
     Williams says he was arrested on July 15, 2015 and spent a week in jail before being released when officials figured out “that he had been misidentified.”
     But the damage had been done. He lost his job, had to hire a lawyer, and faced “threatening and/or embarrassing remarks and public ridicule.”
     “The defendants were negligent, grossly negligent, reckless, and/or wanton in publishing and/or broadcasting the story without checking the accuracy of the facts,” he says.
     He seeks punitive damages for defamation, libel, negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress and invasion of privacy.
     He is represented by Aafram Y. Sellers in Jackson.

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