(CN) – A male stripper known as “Punisher” claims in court that “Dateline NBC” used his image “to inflame latent racial tensions” in a story about a black rapper who allegedly scammed white women.
Sharay Hayes a.k.a. “Punisher” says he had nothing to do with the alleged scam perpetrated by rapper Tim “Dog” Blair, which “Dateline NBC” featured in its June 15, 2012 episode “The Perfect Catch.”
In his lawsuit in New York Supreme Court, Hayes claims NBC Universal Media was “grossly irresponsible” in airing his image alongside a victim’s description of black male strippers, as “ominous-sounding music” played in the background.
Hayes says his image was chosen “because of racism and discrimination,” as it was “meant to inflame latent racial tensions.”
“In other words the defendant depicted a picture of a half naked black man involved in a scam of white women,” says Hayes, who has appeared on “I Love Money” and other VH1 reality shows.
He claims the image was taken from an exotic male review show in Australia that “has no connection whatsoever with the alleged ‘scam’ of any women depicted in ‘The Perfect Catch.'”
Though Hayes acknowledges that Blair “was involved in the production” of the Australia event, he says that event “had nothing to do with any of the women” who appeared in the “Dateline NBC” episode.
NBC provided no disclaimers or statements indicating that Hayes wasn’t involved in the alleged scam, according to the lawsuit.
“The bottom line is that the defendants’ depiction of plaintiff had absolutely nothing to do with the alleged scam of any of the women depicted in ‘The Perfect Catch,'” the lawsuit states.
Hayes says the show tarnished his reputation and forced him to cancel events, as his female clientele have expressed “disgust” in the false association. He filed a similar lawsuit in April.
He demands more than $1 million in lost income for the alleged defamation and is representing himself in court.
Timothy “Tim Dog” Blair was arrested and convicted of grand larceny in 2010 for scamming Mississippi native Esther Pilgrim out of about $30,000.
The hip-hop artist reportedly died in February 2013 from diabetes-related complications, though Pilgrim claims he faked his own death to avoid paying her $19,000 in restitution.
Steven Jubera, the prosecutor who helped get Blair convicted in 2011, obtained a warrant for his arrest, telling a Memphis news station, “I need a death certificate showing that he’s dead because as far as I’m concerned, he’s alive.”
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