LOS ANGELES—A California Court of Appeals has upheld a decision to allow a libel claim to proceed against adult star Nikki Benz in her ongoing legal case versus director Tony T.
The Second Appellate District of the California Court of Appeal filed its decision last week.
Benz had appealed the denial of her anti-SLAPP motion from 2017, when she attempted to strike Tony T’s claims for libel and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
SLAPP stands for “strategic lawsuit against public participation,” or one that is intended to censor, intimidate and silence critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense in an effort to get them to abandon their opposition. These suits are illegal in many jurisdictions on the grounds they impede freedom of speech. The California anti-SLAPP law is designed to protect citizens from suits deemed as meeting the criteria for a SLAPP.
The matter started in December 2016, when Benz claimed on Twitter that she was sexually assaulted on a set for Brazzers in a scene that was directed by Tony T and co-starred Ramon Nomar.
The studio parted ways with Tony T, who had been a contract director, on the heels of the allegations, citing violations of their shooting protocols.
Tony T denied Benz’s allegations, and the crew submitted affidavits in support of T’s version of the day’s events on set.
The Court of Appeal re-affirmed the trial court decision to deny Benz’s anti-SLAPP motion because T had established his “prima facie case of libel per se” regarding the rape allegation made on Twitter.
In the appeal, Benz argued that her “statements were substantially true” and that her tweets were “mere opinion.” The Appellate Court disagreed, awarding T court costs.
“All this means for Tony T is that the jury will hear that he sued his victim after she spoke out about his known violent propensities,” Benz’s attorney Daniel Gilleon told AVN Monday. “Pretty fitting of a bully, don’t you think? Abuse women and then play victim. That’s the coward’s way. It will only make the jury loathe him more.”
T said, “This has been a crazy experience and has been brutal for me. I want to get back into court and show all the evidence about the shoot to the judge and jury.”
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