PALM BEACH (CN) – A Florida minister says The National Enquirer defamed him in a Page 1 story and photo: “Casey Anthony HUMAN SACRIFICE RITUAL! The horrible truth about what happened to Caylee,” which called him a “‘subject of inquiry in possible HUMAN SACRIFICE.'”
Richard Grund says the Enquirer ran its lurid headline, with the equally titillating subheadline, “‘INSIDE CASEY ANTHONY POLICE FILE: BIZARRE TWIST IN CAYLEE’S MURDER, Minister subject of inquiry in possible HUMAN SACRIFICE,’ right next to a picture of plaintiff, Richard Grund.”
Grund is the father of Casey Anthony’s ex-fiance, according to media organizations that covered that case.
After pointing out that the headlines included “bright red” and yellow type, Grund adds: “The article has an excerpted blurb stating ‘People do crazy things … for their strange beliefs,’ implying and creating the misimpression that plaintiff’s religious beliefs played some role in the horrible tragedy of Caylee Anthony’s death.”
Grund, a minister in the Pentecostal Holiness Church, says that the Oct. 12, 2009 Enquirer article that depicts him as “some demon-chasing child killer” is false and defamatory.
He also claims that the Enquirer’s description of him as “a ‘self-proclaimed Christian minister’ is false.” He says he was ordained and licensed by the Pentecostal Holiness Church in 1992. Grund calls it “a major Protestant denomination,” and says the group that ordained him, the Association of Evangelical Gospel Assemblies, “is on of the oldest and largest nondenominational assemblies.”
He says the Enquirer “never sought to confirm or deny plaintiff’s credentials” before it published the article, “but instead chose to use the derogatory ‘self-proclaimed’ language.”
He claims that the Enquirer mischaracterized his membership in a “Supernatural Response Team” as membership in an “exorcism group.”
“Plaintiff does not participate in ‘exorcisms,’ as exorcisms are a uniquely Roman Catholic ritual performed by Roman Catholic priests,” Grund says.
Grund says: “The article creates the false and misleading impression that the police in charge of the Caylee Anthony case were investigating a connection between plaintiff and Caylee Anthony’s disappearance and death. Plaintiff was never the subject of such an investigation by the police, nor anyone else and said statement was false.
“The statements regarding ‘a demonic chasing team investigating a satanic possession at a house in Rhode Island,’ are false, as are the statements regarding the posting of videos, one of which is not the plaintiff’s creation.
“The overriding message and content of the article portrayed plaintiff as some demon-chasing child killer for public consumption and the profit of National Enquirer.”
Grund seeks punitive damages for defamation.
“The statements in the article convey the misleading falsity that plaintiff, an ordained minister, murdered a child in an unspecified human sacrifice ritual,” Grund says. “As a result, plaintiff has been subjected to distrust, hatred, contempt and ridicule which has damaged his reputation and ministry.”
Grund is represented in Palm Beach County Court by Douglas Roberts, with Stearns, Roberts & Guttentag, of Fort Lauderdale.
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