By Fred Petke
The Winchester Sun
11:04 AM EST, January 8, 2013
The leader of Stand Up Clark County filed her official response to a libel suit filed against her by Clark County School Superintendent Elaine Farris Monday, saying the case is unfounded because everything she said about Farris is true.
Joan Graves is one of three defendants named in Farris’ suit, along with former George Rogers Clark High School football coach Paul Columbia and his wife Patricia. As of press time, the Columbias had not filed their answer to the lawsuit.
When none of the defendants had filed their answers within 20 days of being served, and did not ask for an extension of time, Farris and her attorneys filed a motion for a default judgment. On Friday, Clark Circuit Judge Jean Chenault Logue granted both defendants 10 additional days to file their answers.
In court documents, the Columbias’ attorney Robert Cowen said he wanted to conduct Farris’ deposition prior to filing his answer. Logue denied that, and allowed 40 days for depositions to occur.
In her answer, Graves denies the bulk of Farris’ claims against her. She also says Farris is a public figure and must establish that any statements are made with “actual malice.” She also denied making any false statements against Farris.
“Any written or oral statements made by Graves related to (Farris) are true, and truth is an absolute defense to the claims ...” her answer stated. She also called Farris’ complaint a “spite suit” in other court documents.
In the suit, Farris said the situation began when Paul Columbia was dismissed as football coach on Dec. 16, 2011. Farris said he asked to be allowed to resign, which she granted. Five days later, Columbia told The Winchester Sun he retracted his original statement and said that he was terminated.
Farris alleged that the three libeled, slandered and harassed her for much of 2012.
“Since (Dec. 21, 2011), Patricia Columbia, Paul Columbia and Joan Graves have made false statements, both oral and written, inpugning the personal and professional character and integrity of the plaintiff, Elaine Farris,” the suit stated.
Farris also said the group created printed publications about Farris that “imputed that she was/is unfit to conduct the duties of her position as superintendent of Clark County Schools.”
Contact Fred Petke at email@example.com.