Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Judge Allows Defamation Lawsuit against BOHA Member to Proceed

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Judge Allows Defamation Lawsuit against BOHA Member to Proceed

Article excerpt

A federal judge declined to dismiss the defamation lawsuit filed by a former candidate for mayor of Kansas City, Mo., against a Lenexa woman appointed to Kansas' medical regulatory board by Gov. Sam Brownback.

U.S. District Court Judge Carlos Murguia rejected a motion by attorneys for defendant Anne Hodgdon to toss a suit brought by Clay Chastain, the high-profile proponent of mass transit who lost a mayoral race in 2015.

Chastain maintained Hodgdon, a Republican appointed to the Kansas Board of Healing Arts, posted a "false, vicious and malicious" assertion to Facebook that he attempted to sexually assault her in 1994. He also claimed Hodgdon made the accusation public to weaken his campaign to unseat Kansas City, Mo., Mayor Sly James.

In the Facebook article by Hodgdon, she said she rebuffed Chastain's attempt to kiss her at his home.

"In a split second," she said in the post, "his good looks transformed into rage and he violently tore my blouse completely open at the buttons."

She said she struck him with a knee and ran from the residence with Chastain racing after her "screaming like a madman."

In 2015, Chastain placed third in the primary for Kansas City, Mo., mayor. He subsequently failed in a legal bid to have James dropped from the general election ballot. James coasted to re- election.

Hodgdon's post to Facebook criticized Chastain for maneuvering to deprive the city of its finest mayor in decades.

Chastain denied the attempted sexual assault occurred and said Hodgdon acted with malice by making allegations unsupported by evidence. He said Hodgdon inaccurately claimed she was invited to his home to examine public-transit drawings.

"Hodgdon's Facebook post painting plaintiff as a potential rapist and a man very dangerous to women was unmistakably made knowing it was false," he said in court documents.

Todd Graves, an attorney representing Hodgdon, sought dismissal of the suit and contended Chastain failed to demonstrate actual malice. Hodgdon's counsel also claimed Chastain was "libel proof," because he admitted in an autobiography to being a womanizer. …

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