Joran van der Sloot thought he was flying to New York simply for a TV interview, to tell his side of the story as a suspect in Natalee Holloway’s disappearance. Instead, before he could get off the airplane Feb. 16, a passenger who was also a process server handed him a summons for a civil suit. Natalee’s parents, Dave Holloway and Beth Twitty, brought the action—which seeks an unspecified amount of money and names van der Sloot’s father, Paul, as a defendant—to keep pressure on the Aruban authorities to find their daughter. “Our ultimate goal is to find out what happened and who’s responsible and see if justice can be served,” says Dave Holloway, whose memoir Aruba: The Tragic Untold Story of Natalee Holloway and Corruption in Paradise is due April 11. Attorney Mickey Sherman, though, thinks “there’s a good chance [the lawsuit] will get tossed out” because of jurisdiction issues.
The lawsuit comes nearly nine months after Natalee Holloway vanished last May 30 in Aruba, after leaving a restaurant with Joran and brothers Deepak and Satish Kalpoe. In language more emotional than legal, it calls Joran, 18, ‘The Predator,’ rather than the defendant; without supplying supporting evidence, it says he used Ecstasy as a date-rape drug and assaulted at least three young women. Joran denies the charges. “I’ve been portrayed as a murderer and a rapist and everything I’m not,” he said in an interview with ABC Primetime co-anchor Chris Cuomo. “Paul and Joran seem to think that there are never any repercussions,” says Beth Twitty. “I can only hope … that now we can get to the bottom of this.” One thing is for certain, says Larry Garrison, who helped set up Joran’s New York interview with Primetime: the van der Sloots’ family trip, intended as a respite, “ended up being a nightmare for them all.”