The U.S. Court of Appeals unanimously voted to reject a defamation lawsuit last Thursday against City Councilman John Liu (D-Flushing), who took to task a controversial radio disc jockey for making threats about a rival and his family.
The court found that former Power 105.1 FM personality DJ Star, whose real name is Troi Torain, had no grounds to sue the councilman for calling him a "racist pedophile" two years ago. Liu blasted Torian after the DJ threatened to sexually abuse the daughter and wife of DJ Envy, whose real name is Raashaun Casey, during an on air broadcast May 3, 2006.
"Torain's radio broadcasts brought a mother — fearful for the safety of her 4-year-old — to my City Council office," Liu said of Casey's wife, Gia Casey, who is part Asian. "This young mother sat trembling and weeping in my office as we listened to recordings of Torain's despicable, reviling rants."
Torain was trying to get back at Raashaun Casey, a Jamaica, Queens native, after he made on-air threats against Torain's mother. The Power 105.1 morning show host not only offered listeners $500 if they could find out where Casey's child went to school, but also used several racial slurs.
Gia Casey and Liu spoke out against the DJ for his remarks and urged that he be fired and prosecuted. The station's parent company, Clear Channel, dropped Torain as its morning host. He was prosecuted for endangering the welfare of a child, but those charges were eventually dropped.
Torain then filed a defamation lawsuit against Liu, but last year Manhattan Federal Court Judge George Daniels dismissed the case. Three Court of Appeals in Manhattan judges affirmed the lower court's decision.
"Liu was clearly expressing his disdain for Torain's comments on the radio that he wanted to sexually abuse the 4-year-old child... using the term 'pedophile' as an entirely warranted expression of opinion in view of the... plaintiff's intended conduct," the ruling said.
Liu said the case should send a message to other shock jocks who try to use controversial methods to boost their reputation.
"What made Torain's case so ironic was that he complained about my choice of words while many people have complained about his words on our public airwaves," he said.
Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.
©2008 Community News Group
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