Former longtime KVBC, Channel 3, weatherman John Fredericks has filed a lawsuit against KLAS-TV and I-Team reporter George Knapp, seeking to prevent the valley's CBS affiliate from broadcasting any stories related to him or posting them on Channel 8's Web site.
Also named in the lawsuit is Cheryl Ray, a woman who had a brief relationship with Fredericks. Ray later went to Knapp with a story detailing a bad breakup, according to the lawsuit, which seeks a temporary restraining order.
Fredericks' attorney, Charles Rainey, said broadcasting "the intimate, personal details of Mr. Fredericks' life is not newsworthy. There is no claim of privilege to justify this blatant violation of Mr. Fredericks' privacy."
The station responded, "This would prevent us from running any story about Mr. Fredericks, from talking about this lawsuit; we could say nothing regarding John Fredericks," said KLAS-TV News Director Ron Comings. "We will fight it, and we stand behind the story. We believe it served a legitimate public interest."
Fredericks late last year was the subject of a couple of reports from Knapp regarding Fredericks and Ray, who accused him of leaving scores of bizarre comments on her voice mail after she broke off the relationship.
Knapp played parts of several messages on the air.
Court papers filed in District Court alleged that the messages, which included threats, were private and that the broadcasts intentionally cast him in a false light.
In court papers, Fredericks said he has been an alcoholic for most of his adult life, and while he did not recall making dozens of calls to Ray's phone, some that were spaced minutes apart, he admitted the breakup caused him to drink "at least a quart of vodka" in one day.
The lawsuit also alleged the news broadcasts, Web postings and Knapp's column published in CityLife (a subsidiary of Stephens Media, which owns the Las Vegas Review-Journal), amount to libel and defamation.
In court papers, Fredericks alleged that Knapp used the danger online dating could pose to women as an excuse to go with the story, but that it focused almost exclusively on the stalking allegations.
Fredericks accused Knapp of not making good on an on-air promise to let him tell his side of the story.
The day after the broadcast, Knapp said on air that Fredericks told him the harassing phone calls were the result of his alcohol dependency.
Review-Journal columnist Steve Bornfeld, who writes about the media, was critical of Knapp and KLAS, writing that the story had no news value.
Knapp responded to the criticism in his weekly column in CityLife, which is not party to the lawsuit. He said that Fredericks is a public figure and sees himself as such and that another woman had been harassed by Fredericks.
The Review-Journal declined to go with the story when contacted by Ray.
Out of television for more than a year, Fredericks thinks the reports so damaged his personal and professional reputation that "no news network in the greater Las Vegas metropolitan" area would hire him.
Contact Doug McMurdo at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-380-8135.