(CN) – Ne-Yo falsely portrayed an ex-lover as a gold digger and a “loathsome, scheming harlot” in a VH1 show to boost album sales, the woman claims in a defamation lawsuit.
Jesseca White says that she and Shaffer Chimere Smith, the hip-hop artist known as Ne-Yo, had a romantic relationship that wasn’t exclusive. When she became pregnant, she claims she informed Ne-Yo that the baby might not be his.
But he voluntarily signed a declaration of paternity in August 2005, “after having been advised of its legal effect and consequences,” according to the lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court.
A paternity test later revealed that Ne-Yo wasn’t the biological father, and in July 2009 they agreed to a confidential child support settlement.
White claims Ne-Yo twisted the story for VH1’s “Behind the Music: Ne-Yo,” which aired on Sept. 23, 2012. In the episode, White is portrayed as an “unchaste woman who deliberately tricked him into believing he was the father of her child, Chimere, so that she could fraudulently bilk him of ‘ungodly amounts of money,'” according to the lawsuit.
In his telling, Ne-Yo “virtuously followed his conscience to remain financially and emotionally involved in the boy’s life,” but “the avaricious White wanted even more,” White claims.
“When her ‘extreme’ child support demands went unmet, she took him to court, shamelessly pried a massive settlement from him and ‘vanished’ with Chimere shortly thereafter, never to be heard from again,” the complaint states, paraphrasing Ne-Yo’s alleged portrayal of White.
But White says none of that is true, and the picture Ne-Yo painted for VH1 was “plainly a cynical exercise in image management and record promotion to enhance the sales of his new album slated for release on November 6, 2012.”
Ne-Yo allegedly told White that his handler thought “talking to the press about his son was good for album sales.”
“Marketing strategy was also the reason [Ne-Yo] cited to Ms. White for why he could not publicly mention the fact that they were a romantic couple, but instead was required to refer to their relationship as one between ‘friends’: it helped his sales among a certain demographic of women who find him more compelling if unattached,” the complaint states.
Predictably, the charade “engendered waves of contempt for her and countervailing sympathy for him,” White claims.
Her complaint cites some of the online attacks against her, including: “Gold diggin b****!!! She knew damn well that wasn’t his baby to begin with!! She’s a disgrace!!”
White says she had to move between her mother’s house and hotels because she feared the “resulting rage,” and her business as a professional photographer and graphic designer has suffered.
She claims Ne-Yo acknowledged the damage he caused her when he tweeted, just two days after the episode aired: “I need it to be known that the purpose of my BEHIND THE MUSIC wasn’t to bash Jesseca White.”
White is suing Ne-Yo for defamation, false light portrayal, and intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress. She’s also suing for breach of contract, claiming Ne-Yo’s remarks clearly violated their confidential settlement agreement. She says the artist or one of his agents also leaked settlement details to TMZ and possibly other media outlets.
White is represented by famed celebrity lawyer Gloria Allred.
She seeks unspecified actual and punitive damages.
Neither VH1 nor its owner, Viacom, is named as a defendant.
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