SANTA ANA, Calif. (CN) – ABC aired a defamatory segment on “20/20” in which a woman marketed her online-dating and background-check service, iCheckmates, by falsely depicting her ex-boyfriend as a con artist who preyed on women he found online, the man claims in court.
David Williams claims that he dumped his former lover, Kelley Cahill, after he found her in bed with another man but she transformed details of the relationship into “a fable on the dangers of internet dating,” falsely portraying Williams as a “cheater” who lured women through online dates.
Williams says Cahill lied to ABC producers in order to promote her online dating service iCheckmates, claiming that he had concealed his marriage to another woman and drowned Cahill in debt.
He names as defendants American Broadcasting Companies, Cahill, “20/20” presenter Christopher Cuomo and “20/20” editor Jack Pyle in his Orange County Superior Court lawsuit.
Williams claims that Cahill approached ABC in early 2011, almost five years after he had ended the relationship. A few months later, ABC broadcast the “20/20” story “Blinded By Love: Kelley Cahill’s Ordeal,” Williams says.
“It falsely portrayed Cahill as a victim of an online dating fraud, and Williams as the villain, an internet dating predator who lied to, and took advantage of, women whom he met online,” the complaint states. “In particular, Cahill, ABC employee Cuomo, who presented the story, ABC employee Pyle, who edited the story, and Doe 1, who produced the story, falsely stated or implied that Williams had lied to Cahill about his marital status, that she had given him gifts including a Range Rover, that he profited from the relationship, whereas she had incurred mounting debts, and that he had ‘preyed’ on a ‘multitude of other women.’ Cahill has repeated these and other false and defamatory statements about Williams on various websites, and ABC continues to make the story available to the public online,” the lawsuit states.
But Williams says Cahill knew when they were dating that he was separated from his wife, and that during their relationship he supported Cahill who “spent more than she earned.” He also claims that he bought the Range Rover himself, that he bought her expensive gifts, and that when they refinanced the mortgage on their house she took all the equity for herself.
Cuomo claimed on “20/20” that Williams had declined to comment, the complaint states.
But Williams says that when Cuomo first approached him, he told the reporter that if he checked public records he would discover Cahill was lying.
He says that Cuomo later contacted him just days before the story was broadcast and asked for an interview. Williams claims he refused because he did not have enough time to seek legal advice, and did not trust Cuomo.
“ABC failed to engage in any, or any meaningful, research to determine whether Cahill was being truthful, and failed to give Williams any, or any adequate, opportunity to rebut Cahill’s allegations treating her story objectively,” the complaint states.
Williams is represented by Alexander Rufus-Isaacs in Beverly Hills, Calif. He seeks unspecified damages and a jury trial for libel, publication of private facts, intrusion, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.