November 30, 1999
Ramseys Sue Star Over Accusation
By CAROL WOODFORD
ATLANTA (AP) -- The parents of JonBenet Ramsey filed suit today against the supermarket tabloid the Star on behalf of their 12-year-old son, Burke, charging that he was libeled by stories alleging he was the prime suspect in his sister's killing.
The Star later retracted the stories.
The suit filed in federal court by John and Patsy Ramsey seeks $25 million in actual and punitive damages.
It said the stories, published May 25 and June 1, were false and defamatory, and subjected Burke to ``public hatred, contempt and ridicule.''
In a statement today, the Star said it would vigorously fight the suit and would use the libel case to further investigate the killing.
``No publisher enjoys being sued, but Star and American Media (its owner) are proud of the role that Star's sister publication, National Enquirer, played in finding the killer of (Bill Cosby's son) Ennis Cosby and in locating evidence that helped bring O.J. Simpson to justice,'' the statement said. ``We hope that the Ramsey family joins us now in the search for the killer of their daughter.''
The 6-year-old JonBenet, a frequent contestant in children's beauty pageants, was found beaten and strangled Dec. 26, 1996, in the basement of her parents' home in Boulder, Colo.
The Ramseys later moved to Atlanta. JonBenet is buried in suburban Marietta next to her half-sister, Elizabeth Ramsey, 22, who died in a car crash in Ohio in 1992.
A Colorado grand jury investigating JonBenet's death was dismissed in October without issuing indictments.
However, the investigation is still active. A criminologist, Dr. Henry Lee, has said that he is examining a piece of physical evidence from the crime scene.
The Ramseys' attorney, Lin Wood, said the Ramseys would not discuss the lawsuit.
``John and Patsy Ramsey have lost one child to an auto accident. They have had one child murdered, and they have had one child branded a murderer. And they are determined, with respect to Burke, to take the appropriate action so that this type of tabloid journalism will hopefully not be repeated in the future as it pertains to a child,'' Wood said.
The Star's May 25 article alleged that Burke, who was 9 when his sister died, was the prime suspect in her slaying and that a plea bargain was in the works.
The June 1 article said prosecutors were ``closing in'' on Burke and that he had a ``sad, twisted life'' because he was never able to compete with his beauty-queen sister.
In retracting the stories June 22, the Star said Burke had been cleared and was not a suspect.
The suit names American Media Inc. and Star Editorial Inc., publishers of the tabloid, as defendants.
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