Society

Texas Couple Awarded Nearly $7 Million In Defamation Suit Involving Psychic

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A Texas couple has won a lawsuit against a psychic who they say defamed them by telling police that there was a mass grave on their property. Joe Bankston and Gena Charlton are trying to collect nearly $7 million from the alleged psychic, Presley “Rhonda” Gridley.

Gridley told police that they would find 25 to 30 bodies in the mass grave. The self-described psychic/reverend also told the officers there would be children’s bones in the walls of the grave and that they would find “stuff written all over the walls in blood.”

When police started their investigation, they repeated what Gridley had said to the local media. The press then reported the outrageous claims as facts, according to The Daily Mail.

After the investigation turned up no bodies, Bankston and Charlton sued Liberty County, various media outlets and Gridley.

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“Over the course of the day, media defendants began to exaggerate and eventually make up facts about plaintiffs, including that a mass grave existed on the property, including the bodies of children,” the lawsuit said.

The couple has settled with the county and the case against the media outlets was dismissed, leaving only Gridley to deal with.

“Whether it will be collectible, we're going to pursue that,” said the couple’s attorney, Andrew Sommerman.

Gridley has yet to show up to any of the court hearings. Instead, she wrote a letter to the court saying, “I have no knowledge and am not aware of any situation or circumstance that would require me to appear, or give a deposition.”

The judge in the case ruled that Gridley “intentionally published an unambiguous statement by oral publication” about the mass grave. The judge awarded Bankston $2 million for past mental anguish and damage to his reputation, and $1 million for future emotional distress. Charlton received the same and also was awarded $99,000 in past lost wages and $750,000 in future lost wages.

Sources: The Daily Mail, The Houston Chronicle