Kaelin’s ex-girlfriend loses libel suit against Time
CALIFORNIA–In mid-March, a jury in Los Angeles decided that an article in Time magazine did not libel the ex-girlfriend of Brian “Kato” Kaelin, former O.J. Simpson houseguest, because the article was largely true and protected as a fair report of judicial proceedings.
An August 1996 article in Time reported that two friends of Rachel Ferrara, Kaelin’s ex-girlfriend, said that the version of events on the night of the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman that she told to them differed from her testimony in a preliminary hearing in Simpson’s prosecution.
Ferrara testified that she was on the phone with Kaelin when he heard thumping noises on the wall of the Simpson guest house where he was staying, and that he encountered Simpson outside the house 10 to 15 minutes later. According to the article, Ferrara’s friends, Teri Fiddleman and Danielle Nicolet, told police and prosecutors that Ferrara told them Kaelin encountered Simpson right outside the guest house immediately after hearing the thumps.
Alleging that Time falsely reported that she contradicted herself and implied that she committed perjury, Ferrara sued the magazine for $2 million. Testimony in the trial lasted five days and featured opposing versions of Fiddleman’s and Nicolet’s statements to prosecutors.
The jury found that the report that Ferrara had testified at the preliminary hearing in a “contradictory” and “crucially different manner” from when she discussed the events with friends were in fact true, as was the magazine’s observation that, if she recanted her testimony, she could be charged with perjury. The jury also found that, while the report made some minor mistakes, it was nonetheless protected by a privilege for fair and true reports of judicial proceedings and statements made to law enforcement officials. (Ferrara v. Time, Inc.; Media Counsel: Bob Vanderet, Los Angeles)