CLEVELAND (CN) - WOIO TV in Cleveland defamed a high school teacher by reporting he had child pornography on his school computer, despite a warning from his attorney that the claim was false, the teacher claims in court.
Georgio Sabino III sued WOIO LLC and its reporter Ed Gallek, in Cuyahoga County Court.
Sabino claims the fiasco began when two failing students tried to get him fired.
The complaint identifies the students, but not as defendants.
"Angela Hylton and Simone Tyler were students in plaintiff's art and photography class at Cleveland Heights High School," the complaint states.
"Both Hylton and Tyler were having difficulty in, and failing, the class.
"Because Hylton and Tyler believed that plaintiff was being unfair to them in failing them in the class, Hylton and Tyler hatched a scheme to have plaintiff fired from his teaching position at the high school.
"In an effort to have plaintiff fired, Hylton and Tyler made false oral and written allegations to employees of the school district that they saw pornography on plaintiff's computer.
"Thereafter, Hylton and Tyler made additional false oral and written allegations to Cleveland Heights police officer Michael D'Amico and Cleveland Heights Detective William Stross that they saw pornography on plaintiff's computer. Additionally, Hylton made both oral and written allegations to Cleveland Heights police officer Michael D'Amico and Cleveland Heights detective William Stross that she saw a video on plaintiff's computer of children having sex."
Upon learning that WOIO planned to broadcast a story claiming that child pornography had been found on his computer, Sabino says, his "former legal counsel contacted defendant Gallek and informed him that child pornography was not found on any of plaintiff's computers and that any statements to the contrary were and would be false and asked defendant Gallek not to air the broadcast."
The complaint continues: "Despite the foregoing conversation between plaintiff's former legal counsel and defendant Gallek, defendants nonetheless aired the story, which stated that 'child pornography was found' on a computer plaintiff was using at the High School while teaching."
Sabino claims WOIO posted the story on its website, but that after a second conversation with his legal counsel, the video was taken down.
Sabino's attorney also "demanded that [WOIO] schedule a television broadcast setting forth the truth pertaining to the false and defamatory statements made by defendants in the initial WOIO publication and the WOIO republication. ... As of the date of the filing of this complaint, defendant WOIO has refused to comply with the 2739 demand." (2739 refers to the Ohio legal code.)
Sabino seeks compensatory and punitive damages for defamation, negligence, invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
He is represented by David Waxman with Waxman Blumenthal.
WOIO Channel 19 is a CBS affiliate, according to publicly available information, but CBS is not a defendant in the complaint.