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Wednesday, December 6, 2023
Courthouse News Service
Wednesday, December 6, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Memoirist Dodges Suit After Odd Obama Claims

WASHINGTON (CN) - A man whose memoir leveled accusations of gay sex, drug use and murder at President Barack Obama does not have to face defamation claims from a political blogger he accused of rigging a lie-detector test, a federal judge ruled.

Larry Sinclair made headlines during the 2008 presidential campaign with a short YouTube videoin which he claimed that he and Obama had engaged in gay sex and drug use one night in a limousine during Obama's tenure as an Illinois state senator in 1999.

Daniel Parisi, a political blogger for the now defunct Whitehouse.com, challenged Sinclair to take a polygraph.

The results indicated that Sinclair had lied, but Sinclair claimed that an anonymous telephone tipster told him Parisi had rigged the polygraph with Obama's adviser, David Axelrod.

Sinclair says he called Parisi about the allegations, but Parisi failed to respond. Sinclair also forwarded the information to a Chicago Tribune reporter who spoke with the anonymous tipster.

In a 2009 memoir titled "Barack Obama & Larry Sinclair: Cocaine, Sex Lies & Murder?", Sinclair said Axelrod paid $750,000 to rig the polygraph and that "the polygraph exam was announced by the internet pornography fraud Dan Parisi."

The book also claims Obama tried to cover up the murder of a church choir director, who Sinclair says was Obama's other gay lover.

Parisi sued, claiming the book caused his website to tank.

U.S. District Judge Richard Leon dismissed the complaint Tuesday after finding that Parisi is a public figure and that Sinclair took reasonable steps to verify the allegations.

"In their complaint, plaintiffs merely allege in a conclusory fashion that the 'defamatory statements were made and published by defendants with knowledge of their falsity or with reckless disregard for their truth," Leon wrote. "The complaint contains no factual allegations, other than plaintiff's own assertions that the statements were false, suggesting that Sinclair either fabricated the story, that the story was so improbable that only a reckless person would have circulated the story, or that he acted wholly on an unverified anonymous telephone call."

Leon also denied Parisi's request for $30 million in damages that represents the money Parisi said he could have made selling his failed website to news entities.

"The complaint alleges that the harm suffered by plaintiffs occurred in 2008," Leon wrote. "Curiously, however, Sinclair did not publish the alleged defamatory statements until June 2009."

In August 2011, Leon dismissed Parisi's claims against Jeffrey Rense, an Ashland, Ore.-based radio talk-show host wrote the foreword to Sinclair's book.

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