Mississippi man sues HuffPost over story on Brett Kavanaugh
A Gulfport, Mississippi, professor and advocate is suing the national news website HuffPost alleging defamation involving a September 2018 story on U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s days at Georgetown Prep school.
Derrick Evans’ lawsuit was filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Gulfport against HuffPost and its former journalist, Ashley Feinberg.
The lawsuit said HuffPost and Feinberg repeatedly defamed Evans and friend Douglas Kennedy to a nationwide audience on multiple occasions in September 2018 by falsely asserting that they helped arrange the purchase and delivery of cocaine at Georgetown Prep that resulted in the April 1984 death of David Kennedy, Douglas’ brother and the son of the late U.S. attorney general and senator, Robert F. Kennedy.
“These statements were not only false and defamatory, but outrageously so, and were published by defendants with knowledge of their actual falsity or in reckless disregard of the truth for the apparent purpose of creating a salacious story designed to drive internet traffic to HuffPost’s website,” the lawsuit said.
A HuffPost spokesperson said in a statement Wednesday that it doesn’t comment on pending litigation.
In the fall of 2018, the United States Senate was holding confirmation hearings on Kavanaugh’s nomination to become a Supreme Court justice.
Kavanaugh, Evans and Douglas Kennedy were alumni of Georgetown Prep.
During the controversy surrounding Kavanaugh’s nomination, Feinberg wrote the article that Evans’ lawsuit said was sensational, depicting a wild “alcohol-and-drug-fueled” culture at Georgetown Prep in the early 1980s.
The headline of the story was “Kavanaugh’s Prep School Party Scene Was a ‘Free-For-All’.”
The lawsuit said in HuffPost’s zeal to create a sensational article about Kavanaugh’s years at Georgetown Prep and thereby drive traffic to its website, it fabricated the claim that Kennedy and Evans “helped score” the illegal narcotics that killed Douglas Kennedy’s older brother, David, in April 1984.
“Defendants had no sources to support their outrageously false and defamatory statements about Derrick Evans and Douglas Kennedy. Nor did Defendants make any effort whatsoever to contact Mr. Evans for comment before accusing him of not only of committing a crime, but of being responsible for the death of David Kennedy,” the lawsuit said. “Indeed, if Ms. Feinberg or her HuffPost editors had done even the most basic research of publicly available sources, she and they would have known, if they did not already know, that Mr. Evans actively assisted law enforcement in identifying and prosecuting the individuals who actually sold the illegal narcotics.”
The lawsuit said HuffPost ran a correction, but the correction also contained false information. HuffPost eventually changed the story removing any reference to Evans and the Kennedy brothers.
“Defendants’ statements were false, malicious and fabricated, and were published with a knowing, intentional, subjective awareness of, and/or reckless disregard of, their falsity,” Evans’ attorney, John Sneed, said. “Plaintiff has suffered damages as a result of the Defendants’ statements, including emotional distress and harm to his reputation.“
The lawsuit is seeking damages, including punitive, but doesn’t state an amount sought.
Evans, who is African American, obtained a full academic scholarship to Georgetown Preparatory School in North Bethesda, Maryland, in 1982. He was one of the only black students at Georgetown Prep at the time.
After earning bachelors and masters degrees from Boston College, Evans became a history professor and lecturer on American social history and the civil rights movement. In 1992, he was awarded Harvard and Radcliffe Colleges’ Certificate of Distinction in Teaching.
In 2005, in the direct wake of Hurricane Katrina, Evans co-founded the Gulf Coast Fund for Community Renewal and Ecological Health, which has directed over $5 million in critical funding to groups in coastal Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Texas and Florida, according to his lawsuit.
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Contact Jimmie E. Gates at 601-961-7212 or email@example.com. Follow @jgatesnews on Twitter.