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Judge dismisses defamation case against RJ

Updated April 2, 2024 - 7:06 pm

A judge dismissed a defamation lawsuit filed against the Las Vegas Review-Journal after the newspaper reported that a teacher kept his job despite an accusation of “disturbing” conduct.

Thuan Luu sued the newspaper after it revealed that the Clark County School District had renewed his contract just weeks after a local therapist raised concerns that he had an inappropriate fetish for “female bodily fluids.”

During a court hearing Thursday, District Judge Anna Albertson dismissed the case against the newspaper and former reporter Sabrina Schnur. The order granted the newspaper’s anti-SLAPP motion, which said the lawsuit was an attempt to chill the newspaper’s First Amendment rights. The judge’s decision means that the Review-Journal is now entitled to receive attorneys fees and an anti-SLAPP fine.

“The Review-Journal reported a matter of high public interest using government records,” Review-Journal Executive Editor Glenn Cook said Monday. “Our reporting was accurate, and we’re pleased the court has vindicated our journalism.”

During Thursday’s hearing, Luu’s attorney Shawanna Johnson said the Review-Journal’s reporting was reckless and relied on a non-credible source, court records show. In a statement Monday, Johnson said that while she was disappointed in the judge’s decision, she respected the court’s time hearing the case.

“There were difficult legal questions involved, concerning what protections should and should not be afforded to the media,” Johnson wrote. “The underlying statements and allegations published regarding Mr. Luu were and continue to be totally false and were distorted as part of a messy and vindictive divorce. We look forward to continuing the litigation to obtain full vindication for Mr. Luu for the knowingly false and defamatory narrative at the heart of the case.”

The Review-Journal reported its story based on the Public Concern Form obtained from the Clark County School District through a public records request. Though the teacher’s name was redacted from that report, the Review-Journal obtained an unredacted copy that identified Luu.

The concern form claimed that Luu had a secret camera hidden in his glasses that recorded students sitting outside and that he took photos of menstrual blood on a student’s chair. The therapist wrote that she only provided details on behaviors for which she had documented proof through photos, videos and handwritten letters.

Luu is still suing the therapist and his estranged wife for defamation. He claims in court records that the videos were fabricated and that his wife, Jung Min, orchestrated the false claims against him as a way to extort money from him in their divorce.

When the district received the complaint against Luu, he was teaching art at the Veterans Tribute Career and Technical Academy, according to the complaint and a message from the school district. The state license website indicates that he also taught at Twitchell Elementary School from 2015 through 2018.

The Veterans Tribute Career and Technical Academy website shows that a Marc Luu, a name for Luu that is in court documents, is employed as an art teacher.

Contact Briana Erickson at berickson@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5244. Follow @ByBrianaE on Twitter.

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