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Monday, June 24, 2024 | Back issues
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Escort Claims Conde Nast|CEO Defamed Him

(CN) - The veteran turned gay escort who allegedly outed Conde Nast chief David Geithner to Gawker is seeking $5 million for the damage he says the publisher did to his reputation.

In a complaint filed Tuesday in Manhattan Federal Court, L. Derek Truitt describes himself as a gay combat veteran struggling with recurring post-traumatic stress syndrome when he allegedly received a call from Geithner on July 4, 2015, who offered him $2,500 for a gay liaison in Chicago the following week.

Truitt says the two previously had no relationship, and were otherwise strangers, but talked frequently during the ensuing days, even exchanging photos by text. He says their relationship took a turn a day or two before they were to rendezvous, when he began to talk for the first time about discrimination he was experiencing as a homosexual.

Geithner, Truitt says, was "totally unsympathetic," and this "uncaring and hypocritical attitude toward gay rights" upset him. According to the complaint, the next day, "Geithner made it clear he wanted no further communication between them,"

"This indifference further insulted Truitt, but he kept his feelings to himself," the complaint continues. "Accordingly, Truitt agreed to discontinue contact with Geithner by sending 'one last' text message on July 12, 2015."

Truitt says as days passed, he grew increasingly upset about Geithner's alleged hypocrisy.

"Attempting to dissipate his growing angst, on July 15, 2015, Truitt sent a text to Geithner, seeking one more opportunity to express himself and elicit Geithner's help, but Geithner ignored him," the complaint says.

Truitt claims he was now an "emotional wreck about all that was happening in his life."

The following morning, he says, he contacted Gawker, merely wanted to vent about hypocrisy, and in the process gave the New York-based publication two screenshots of text messages between him and Geithner that explicitly showed what was going on between them."

Gawker promptly called Geithner, and Truitt says, Geithner immediately called him.

"Geithner sounded desperate and pathetic - as if revelations about his homosexuality would actually destroy his life - and he begged Truitt to stop Gawker from publishing anything," the complaint says.

Truitt claims felt sorry for Geithner, and contacted Gawker to retract the story, but the publication went ahead, and at 5:30 p.m. on July, published a story headlined, "Condé Nast's CFO Tried to Pay $2,500 for a Night with a Gay Porn Star."

"After Geithner's hypocrisy was reported," Truitt says, the publisher and his cronies "orchestrated a false and accused Truitt of extortion and attempted extortion."

Truitt flatly denies those assertions, and says he never made any request that could even be misinterpreted as extortion.

Truitt also says Geithner had no reasonable expectation of privacy when he made contact with him and readily disclosed his contact information with him, and that never did Geithner "request that his sexuality be concealed or that his homosexuality be kept private."

"The first person who made any allegation about extortion was Geithner. In a false statement provided by Geithner directly to Gawker -where the reporter for Gawker fully revealed to Geithner everything that was known about his extensive communications with Truitt -the CEO said he did not know Truitt, and that he never had any text exchanges with him, and that Truitt was perpetrating a 'shakedown' due to some ulterior motive."

" As spoken, these statements were slanderous; as reported by Gawker, these statements were libelous (and it was clearly Defendants' intent that Gawker, and subsequently others, report these false statements)," the complaint says. "Allegations of a "shakedown" were not just false, they were outrageously false."

"Horribly," Truitt says, "thousands of pages of search results, tweets, blog posts, and other content online reference these false accusations of extortion, identifying what appears to be over 200,000 records. "

"Although hundreds of thousands of news articles, tweets, posts, blog articles, and other content were posted, it appears that nearly all trace to less than a handful of original sources, all of which appear to have Condé Nast affiliations in the past or presently," the complaint says.

Truitt says the accusations of serious criminal conduct have harmed him "beyond measure."

"A world of difference lies between Truitt's true report about his planned liaison with Geithner, versus Geithner's untrue allegations that Truitt threatened to expose Geithner's sexuality as part of a plot to extort money from Geithner. The former was a matter of fact. The latter never occurred," the complaint says.

In addition to the $5 million he is seeking in compensatory damages, Truitt is also seeking unspecified punitive damages, the amount to be determined at trial, on claims of libel, slander, publication with actual malice, and publication with common law malice.

He is represented by Lawrence Fisher of Pittsburgh, Penn.

A statement provided to Courthouse News by the Conde Nast communications department said, "The claims against Condé Nast are without merit and will be vigorously defended."

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