CINCINNATI (CN) – Hearst Television and WLWT Channel 5 defamed a woman and invaded her privacy by repeatedly showing her picture and name on sexually suggestive stories and Internet postings featuring obscene cell phone “sexting,” she claims in Hamilton County Court.
“Sexting refers to the act of sending sexually explicit messages or photos electronically between cell phones,” according to the complaint. Joanna Arugus says learned of WLWT’s use of her name “in this scandalous, and often criminal, context without her authorization” when a family member told her he saw her name on a Channel 5 newscast showing a cell phone with a sexually suggestive text message.
Arugus said a station employee told her WLWT used her name and wrote the message on a cell phone to have video for the story. Arugus is a grant writer for nonprofits and a medical editor who is self-employed under her own name.
She says the man apologized and said he would “make sure that WLWT did not use the footage with her name again.”
But she says the station continued to use the image on stories about “sexting” for its TV news broadcasts and on their Web site.
She says the station used name repeatedly with a text message that said: “Baby, I know what you need …” Arugus says she learned of this message when a client told her he had seen it – a statement that “horrified” her.
Arugus says she contacted the station a second time, and was told it would remove her name from all past images and would stop using it with the “sexting” stories – but the station hasn’t done that. She says her brother called her eight days later to say “he had seen her name with a suggestive text in another sexting story.”
Arugus demands punitive damages for invasion of privacy, defamation, emotional distress and negligence.
She sued Ohio/Oklahoma Hearst-Argyle Television, its general manager and news director, and Internet Broadcasting Systems, which administers the station’s online content.
She is represented by Michael Lyon with Lindhorst & Dreidame.