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Ohio Court Revives Police Chief’s Defamation Claims

COLUMBUS, Ohio (CN) - The Ohio Supreme Court reversed dismissal of Columbus Police Chief James Jackson's claim that the former public safety director issued a report falsely claiming Jackson had impregnated a juvenile prostitute and had a reputation of being a "scam artist" and a "liar."

Jackson claims defendant Thomas Rice issued the investigational report in retaliation for Jackson's lenient sanction of a police commander who had allegedly interfered with the investigation of a Columbus-area prostitution ring.

Rice thought the sanction was too lenient, Jackson claims, so he decided to investigate Jackson for his alleged "mismanagement."

Jackson sued the city, Rice and Mayor Gregory Lashukta over the statements contained in the report. The trial court granted qualified immunity to Rice and the city, ruling that Jackson had failed to show actual malice.

The justices reversed, concluding that Rice may have acted with actual malice because, at minimum, he knew there was a high probability that the statements in the report were false.

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