For those of you fortunate enough to have forgotten about Corey Clark: he had a brief fling with celebrity after he was kicked off American Idol in 2003 and later accused then-Idol judge Paula Abdul of secretly helping him advance in the show while they were having a clandestine, and obviously unethical, sexual relationship. He did this, class act that he is, two years later while he was promoting an album release.
I didn’t remember Corey Clark either, until a typical reputation-cleaner (that is, dishonest and threatening) called me on the phone yesterday, misrepresenting himself as working for Clark’s lawyer, and told me that Clark was engaged in litigation regarding “defamatory” material published about him. He said that a post on Ethics Alarms’ predecessor, The Ethics Scoreboard, had “defamed” Clark in 2005 by stating that he had been convicted of a felony, and this was a demand that I either retract that post or take it down.
This, is, of course, approaching the patented territory of Ken at Popehat, whose specialty is opposing creeps who try to censor opinion on the internet by threatening spurious but expensive litigation against bloggers. As I told Clark’s paid lackey, who spouted erroneous legal theories and had a rudimentary understanding of defamation at best, I was only recounting what I had read in published reports at the time. There could be no defamation, as 1) Clark was, at the time, a public figure, 2) I wrote what I thought was true and accurate and 3) there was no malice involved. He asked me for my source, prompting me to say that I would have been able to supply him with one and would have done so gladly if his employer’s client hadn’t waited seven years to bring the post to my attention. The Scoreboard has not been active since 2009.
If this had been a lawyer’s assistant, as I was led to believe,the lawyer would have been guilty of an ethical violation, because his agent was misrepresenting the law, something a lawyer and his assistants may not do. The statute of limitations for defamation starts running when the information at issue is published, and no state allows a lawsuit after more than three years. This was, at best, a bluff; I would call it an outright lie. Still, I don’t want to be responsible for publicizing inaccurate information after I know it is incorrect.
I said that I would be happy to issue a retraction or to take down or edit the original post if I ascertained that the information was indeed erroneous. I also asked for the courtesy of an e-mail giving me the name of the lackey and the lawyer I though he was working for, stating exactly what Clark’s beef was. Naturally, I didn’t get one (until several days later, after I had posted this). I did check the facts, however, and indeed, I had been incorrect when I wrote, in 2005, that Clark
“was kicked off “American Idol” for not revealing to producers a felony conviction related to his attack on his sister.”
No, he was not convicted of a felony, as my source, whatever it was, reported in 2005. In 2002, Corey Clark was charged in Kansas District Court with resisting arrest, battery upon, yes, his sister, and criminal restraint, as a result of an episode where he resisted arrest and fought with police after neighbors reported that his 15-year-old sister was screaming. Clark cut a plea bargain, pleading “no contest” to “obstructing legal process” and was sentenced to six months probation and ordered to pay $116.00 in legal costs. His sister, as is often the case in cases involving alleged battery of a family member, claimed that nothing happened. “No contest” is a plea that allows a defendant to avoid trial while not exactly pleading guilty—it means “I know I’m going to lose in court, but I don’t admit to the crime.” As for the felony part, the way I read the statute, “obstructing legal process” would be a felony in Clark’s case because the crime underlying the offense, battery, is a felony. I could be wrong however. Was Clark kicked off American Idol for not telling them about this adventure in the legal system? Absolutely. Clark denies that he didn’t tell American Idol, because national talent competitions traditionally have no problem when their winners have been arrested for beating up girls. You can decide who is more likely to be telling the truth.
The source for this correction is Wikipedia, which is the kind of source that keeps tabs on the activities of people like Corey Clark.
So there you have it, Mr. Clark: my voluntary correction of the post in question, written in good faith and belief in 2005, read by about four people since, and the object of your lackey’s gratuitous threats based on a misrepresentation of defamation law and willful ignorance of the statute of limitations. I certainly hope that everyone who will read about this non-conviction and your failure to inform an employer who would be embarrassed by it will use the information to form fair and reasonable assessments of your character. I also hope you didn’t pay very much to the low-life who called me.
And do check out “the Streisand Effect.”