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Fayette County woman sues TV station for defamation

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Posted: Sunday, December 9, 2012 2:00 am

The defamation lawsuit a Fayette County woman filed against a Pittsburgh television station was transferred into federal court on Friday.

Kathy Bass, 49, sued WTAE, claiming that when a 21-year-old woman named Kathy Ann Bass was arrested for her role in a kidnapping in 2010, the station showed the photograph of the 49-year-old Bass in their broadcast about the case.

“Following this incident, defendant WTAE falsely reported that Kathy Bass (the plaintiff in the suit) was involved in this criminal incident, and further, defendant broadcasted on television a photograph of plaintiff's likeness when reporting that plaintiff was involved in this criminal incident,” attorney C.J. Engel wrote. “In fact, plaintiff was not involved in this criminal incident whatsoever.”

As a result of the broadcast, Engel alleged his client received numerous phone calls asking about her supposed involvement in the kidnapping.

When the suit was initially filed in Allegheny County Court in June, Engel alleged that a video of the broadcast was still online. However, a search Friday of WTAE's content did not return any results for the video.

The suit claimed both defamation and invasion of privacy.

“The specific statements made alleged a criminal offense, including a kidnapping involving a weapon, by plaintiff, which statements are not true,” the suit alleged. “All persons to whom the allegations were repeated would understand the immoral and highly offensive nature of the accused crimes.”

The case involved allegations that Kathy Ann Bass, 24, and Victor Tarpley, 33, both of Uniontown, kidnapped a man at gunpoint in Menallen Township on Aug. 24, 2010.

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