TMZ Sued for Report on Country Star’s Divorce

     LOS ANGELES (CN) – Country star Sara Evans’s ex-husband claims in court that TMZ defamed him by reporting that his wife found “a hundred photographs of him having sex with other people.”
     Craig Schelske of Marion County, Oregon sued TMZ Productions; EHM Productions, which makes “TMZ on TV;” and managing editor and TMZ-on-TV star Harvey Levin in Superior Court on Tuesday.
     Schelske claims the defamatory comments appeared in a televised story described in the complaint as “‘The nastiest divorce in all of country music,” which began with the line: “‘Adultery. Sex Photos. Chicken Feed.'”
     Schelske says that in the June 17 episode, TMZ suggested that it had the photos in its possession by showing unnamed people looking at a smart phone.
     He says the broadcast left viewers with the “unmistakable belief that Mr. Schelske was unfaithful while married to his previous spouse, Sara Evans, and that Sara Evans had discovered his infidelity when she found a hundred photographs of him having sex with other people,” according to the complaint.
     Schelske says the story is “unequivocally false.”
     He claims that TMZ later obtained child custody documents between Evans and Schelske that made clear that Evans knew the claims made in the TMZ story were false.
     “‘I will always tell our children that the things said about you were not true,'” Evans wrote in one text message to Schelske that appeared in the documents, according to his 11-page lawsuit.
     Even then, TMZ continued to stick by its story, Schelske says.
     He says he asked for a retraction of the offending statements on July 1, but that TMZ refused to remove them.
     He seeks punitive damages for defamation and false light.
     He is represented by Jason Fowler with the R. Rex Parris Law Firm.

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