Author ordered to pull defamatory statements from site

Patricia Cornwell hopes to be able to cooperate with the search engines and Internet service providers to pull down the libelous statements

A federal judge ordered author Leslie Raymond Sachs to remove from the Internet all statements defaming best-selling crime writer Patricia Cornwell and not to add other statements until the case is resolved.

"Ms. Cornwell is extremely pleased because the injunction grants all of the relief that she sought and because she has a fairly passionate interest in preventing cyberstalking, and she feels she is in a position to pursue this kind of case when a lot of other folks might not be," said Cornwell's attorney Joan Lukey.

Lukey said Cornwell hopes to be able to cooperate with the search engines and Internet service providers to pull down the libelous statements online or provide a hyperlink to the court order so a reader of Sachs' Web sites can review what a federal court has already found in connection with his postings.

In an e-mail to Computerworld and in postings on one of his Web sites, Sachs, who claimed that he is "safe in Europe" (Brussels, according to his blog ) essentially said he won't be complying with the judge's order.

If Sachs refuses to comply with the court order, Lukey said he could ultimately face civil as well as criminal contempt charges.

On Tuesday, Judge Norman Moon granted Cornwell's request for a preliminary injunction saying Sachs' statements about her were false as well as defamatory.

"They are calculated to expose [Cornwell] to public contempt or ridicule and thus induce in the public an ill opinion of her and impair her in the opinion and respect of others," Moon said in court documents.

In addition, Moon said Sachs published his comments "with actual malice" and that Cornwell will suffer further injury to her reputation as an author if Sachs doesn't remove his statements.

In April, Cornwell, who has written 21 books, sued Sachs in federal court in Richmond, Virginia., asking for a court order to stop Sachs from posting "defamatory and contemptuous" material against her on several Web sites. Sachs claimed that Cornwell is a racist and that she plagiarized one of his novels.

Cornwell asked for a jury trial and a US$1 million judgment against Sachs.

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Linda Rosencrance

Computerworld
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