• 55°

South Point woman files defamation suit

A graphic on the window of a South Point man’s truck has become the focus of a civil lawsuit filed in Lawrence County Common Pleas Court.

The lawsuit, filed March 13 by Rebecca Jenkins, also of South Point, alleges John Proctor has publicly defamed her as well as invaded her privacy by placing the graphic that reads, “Rebecca Jenkins is a thief” on his truck. The complaint also suggests these actions have cost Jenkins income as well as caused public ridicule.

“The plaintiff has suffered damages to her reputation and has been exposed to public hatred, contempt, shame, disgrace and has had an adverse effect upon her employment,” the complaint states.

The same day the lawsuit was filed, a motion for preliminary injunction was also filed requesting the court prevent Proctor from “publicizing, in any manner, defamatory statements as against the plaintiff and publishing or causing publication of matters concerning the plaintiff, which place the plaintiff before the public in a false light and results in an invasion of her privacy.”

The lawsuit goes on to say that as a direct result of those actions Jenkins is not able to maintain the same level of employment and that she fears for her safety as well as the safety of her children.

The dispute between Jenkins and Proctor stems from an alleged agreement the two parties reached in late 2013 for Proctor to conduct repairs on Jenkins’ vehicle. An alleged dispute over charges for Proctor’s service led him to file a complaint in Lawrence County Municipal Court’s Small Claims Division.

Proctor received judgment against her, which she has refused to pay, according to the lawsuit.

“The plaintiff has not paid, as the plaintiff has always believed those monies are not due or owed based upon the prior agreement of the parties,” the complaint said.

The complaint goes on to describe actions of the alleged harassment and defamation by Proctor that started in January of 2014 with Jenkins’ refusal to adhere to the small claims court decision.

“The defendant has accused the plaintiff of committing criminal offenses involving theft, placed the plaintiff in a false light in the public eye,” the complaint alleges. “The defendant publicized the allegations against the plaintiff in such a way as to be highly offensive and objectionable to a reasonable person or ordinary sensibilities.”

Proctor admits to committing some of the acts alleged against him. He argues, however, that he is within his rights and that he has never threatened Jenkins, only requested the payment, which the courts say, is due to him.

“I admit that I went by her house with a PA system and asked for my money,” Proctor said. “I’ll tell you I did it, but it was only one time. When the police said I couldn’t do it anymore because it was harassment I stopped. I’ve called her a thief and believe she is because she got work out of me for nothing. I have the right to that opinion.”

Proctor also has allegations of his own. According to him, Jenkins has allegedly taunted him over the nonpayment for his services and that she allegedly has sent threatening text messages to his phone.

“She drives by my house all the time,” Proctor said. “She’ll wave or honk her horn in a smart-aleck way. She’ll send me text messages threatening to have people beat me up and other stuff. I have them all saved.”

Randall Lambert, Jenkins’ attorney said he was unaware of any allegations against his client.

“This is the first I’m hearing of any complaints,” Lambert said. “He’s obviously trying to argue this through the newspaper and we aren’t going to argue it that way. We’re going to do it the right way, in the courts.”

Proctor was adamant he has done nothing outside the law or his rights. Lambert disagrees, taking particular aim at the graphic on Proctor’s truck.

“He has in bold letters on his truck that my client is a thief,” Lambert said. “You aren’t a thief just because you are in a dispute about money owed. You can’t go around calling people such either.”

Jenkins’ is seeking compensatory damages, punitive damages, court costs and attorney fees.