NASHVILLE (CN) - Nashville District Attorney Glenn Funk accuses TV reporter Phil Williams and his employer Scripps Media of falsely reporting that he solicited a bribe and blackmailed a criminal defendant.
Funk sued Williams and Scripps in Davidson County, Tenn., on Thursday for "a patently false story published by the defendants which alleges that Mr. Funk, in his role as district attorney, extorted money from a criminal defendant, solicited a bribe, and even blackmailed a criminal defendant into dismissing a civil lawsuit," according to the complaint.
Williams is an investigative reporter for NewsChannel 5 in Nashville, which was acquired by Scripps in 2015, according to the company's website.
The story at issue was published on Wednesday with the headline, "Explosive Allegations Emerge from David Chase Case: $2 Million Requested To Make Case 'Go Away,'" Funk's lawsuit claims.
Chase is a Nashville real estate developer accused of domestic violence. NewsChannel 5's story says a political consultant working for Chase requested $2 million from Chase's father to make his case "go away," implying that the money was used to bribe someone, according to Funk.
"The defendants go on to claim that Mr. Funk not only solicited a [$2 million] bribe, but he also allegedly blackmailed David Chase into dismissing a civil lawsuit," according to the DA's 10-page lawsuit.
NewsChannel 5 also tweeted, "BREAKING: Allegations of extortion, blackmail against Nashville DA, Glenn Funk."
Funk says an assistant district attorney handled Chase's case and that charges were dismissed based on inconsistent statements made by the alleged victim under oath. Funk approved the decision to dismiss the charges against Chase, Thursday's lawsuit claims.
"Mr. Funk did not blackmail or attempt to blackmail David Chase. Although the dismissal of Mr. Chase's federal lawsuit, which included the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department as a defendant, was a condition precedent to having his criminal charges dismissed, conditioning dismissal of criminal charges on dismissal of a civil lawsuit (referred to as a 'release-dismissal agreement') is routinely used by prosecutors throughout the United States, and such agreements were approved by the United States Supreme Court nearly thirty years ago," the complaint states. "Further, at no point has Mr. Funk solicited, been offered, or accepted any bribe, including during his tenure as district attorney."
Funk denies the allegations and says the story "is a garbled and one-sided account of the facts, and contains defamatory observations and comments."
The DA alleges libel, defamation by implication, false light, conspiracy and violation of the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act.
Funk seeks a retraction and $200 million including punitive damages. He is represented by James Kay Jr. of Kay, Griffin, Enkema & Colbert in Nashville.
NewsChannel 5 general manager Lyn Plantinga told the Tennessean via email that the station stands behind its story and cannot comment on pending litigation.
Read the Top 8
Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.