POSTED ON JULY 25, 2012:
Responses Filed in Lawsuit Against This Land Press.
Defending their news coverage of a Tulsa police captain's sexual activities with another officer as "undoubtedly of legitimate public concern," This Land Press on July 16 filed a motion asking for dismissal of a lawsuit claiming defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress and invasion of privacy.
Christy Kellerhals filed the lawsuit in May after an April news article identified her as a subordinate officer engaged in a racy relationship with Shawn King.
The story described how This Land Press obtained sexually explicit photos and videos showing Kellerhals and King, with the materials originally found on King's laptop by his then girlfriend, Keena Roberts, who is also named in the lawsuit along with the story's author, Joshua Kline.
The publication reported that King was suspended for engaging in sexual activity in 2009 while on-duty in his patrol car, though it reported that the incident involved Roberts.
"The principal purpose of the article was not to expose facts regarding [Kellerhals'] sexual behavior, but to inform the public about the behavior of Captain King leading up to his suspension, which happens to include explicit encounters and exchanges with [Kellerhals], also a public figure and subordinate police officer," the This Land Press response states.
Kellerhals' suit claims public embarrassment and harm to reputation based on "the publication of images and facts about [her] which were intended to remain private and were shared with King in the utmost confidence that they would not be publicly disseminated." In the lawsuit, Kellerhals describes how two photos of her from the materials found on King's laptop -- one of which "depicted Plaintiff leaning forward to reveal cleavage in a decommissioned TPD shirt" -- were published briefly online by This Land Press.
Her suit states that King was never her supervising officer. "To the extent the article contained any issues of public concern, those related exclusively to King, not [Kellerhals], and were discovered by Defendants through unlawful means," the lawsuit states, at one point referring to "stolen" materials.
King was living with Roberts at the time she found the sexually-explicit material, according to the This Land Press article and a July 5 court document filed by Roberts also seeking dismissal of the lawsuit. The news article reported that Roberts found the laptop with the images locked in a closet in King's "personal bathroom," which she searched after discovering sexually explicit text messages between King and Kellerhals.
In Roberts' response, court documents state she went to This Land Press with the laptop as a "last resort" after first seeking help from Tulsa Police Department's Internal Affairs division and the FBI. King's suspension -- for one week, without pay -- took place after Roberts apparently came forward to Internal Affairs.
As far as the privacy claim against Roberts, "where [Kellerhals] knew that once-private images were stored on a computer of a separate individual, who was admittedly no longer in a relationship with her, and that the computer was kept at the residence of a third-party, there can be no objectionably reasonable expectation of privacy," the response states.
Woman Pleads Guilty To Using Drugs While Pregnant. A 34-year-old Tulsa woman pleaded guilty to child neglect after facing a rare criminal charge tied to drug use during pregnancy.
Daiquiri Miller was sentenced July 10 to 15 years in prison, with five years suspended. Oklahoma defines child neglect to be an 85-percent crime, meaning Miller must serve 85 percent of her sentence before being considered for parole. Jailed in April, Miller will receive credit for time served.
According to a police affidavit, Miller and her infant son each tested positive for cocaine on the day he was born.
Mothers sometimes give birth to children who test positive for drugs, but child welfare authorities typically handle such cases without criminal charges being filed. In an interview with UTW before Miller's guilty plea, Tulsa County District Attorney Tim Harris cited Miller's background -- according to a police affidavit, she tested positive nine times during two earlier pregnancies -- as a reason to pursue a criminal investigation.
Representatives of National Advocates for Pregnant Women told UTW that such prosecutions violate a woman's reproductive rights. They claimed prosecution may not be legally justified because Oklahoma criminal law doesn't explicitly refer to a fetus or pregnancy behavior in describing child neglect. But the Oklahoma Children's Code, which typically governs non-criminal child welfare cases, includes a definition of a "deprived child" that references an infant born testing positive for drugs.
Lynn Paltrow, executive director for the group, wrote in an email that the organization was "investigating why" Miller pleaded guilty.
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