November 30, 2005

KISS and Tell?

A New York state court trial judge recently denied a motion to dismiss a defamation claim brought against KISS co-founder Gene Simmons, Viacom, and others, by Georgeann Walsh Ward, who alleges she had an "exclusive, monogamous romantic relationship" with Simmons back in the early 70s.

In 2004 a "rockumentary" entitled When KISS Ruled the World was aired on Viacom's VH1 network. Ward alleges, in essence, that she was defamed because she was portrayed as an unchaste woman when her photograph (she is never mentioned by name or otherwise identified) was shown a number of times, mostly during a segment highlighting Simmons's sexual proclivities.

The trial court determined that juxtaposition of Ward's photographs with commentary "recounting Simmons's repeated sexual encounters with female strangers is reasonable susceptible of a defamatory meaning."

See Julie Hinden's piece at FindLaw for her take on why the court is wrong.

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