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KNOE Not Liable For Suicide In Louisiana Sexual Assault Case, Court Rules

A state appeals court in Louisiana has ruled that KNOE, the CBS-affiliate in Monroe, is not liable for a suicide that occurred while the station was reporting on a sexual assault in Ruston, LA.

In 2007, Gina Koons, a student at Lousiana Center for the Blind, reported that she had been sexually assaulted on campus. She reported the incident to police and contacted KNOE, who assigned Mike McDaniel to report on the story. (McDaniel has since joined WLBT in Jackson.) In his report, which aired on the station’s 10 p.m. newscast, McDaniel identified Samuel Johnston Jr. as the alleged attacker.

Johnston killed himself after the story aired. In March 2008, Johnston’s surviving family — his wife and two daughters — sued the station for defamation and false light invasion of privacy.

According to Courthouse News Service, an appeals court has now ruled in favor of the station.

“We note that the reporter did not state that the decedent had been arrested or that the allegations against the decedent were true,” Judge Felicia Toney Williams wrote in her decision. “Rather he reported, pursuant to a police report, that allegations had been made against the decedent.”

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