The parents of murdered child beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey have filed a $16 million lawsuit against the FOX News network, claiming that a 2002 report defamed them, their lawyer Lin Wood tells Reuters.
The suit, filed in Atlanta federal court on Tuesday, claims that a FOX reporter’s statement that “There has never been any evidence to link an intruder to JonBenet’s brutal murder” was false and defamed the Ramseys.
In legal papers obtained by Reuters, the suit says: “The gist of the statements uttered in the Ramsey segment is that in all probability, one or more of the Ramseys murdered JonBenet.”
FOX News spokesman Robert Zimmerman said the network had yet to be served with the lawsuit and had no comment.
Wood, an Atlanta-based lawyer for the Ramseys, said the lawsuit seeks compensatory damages of $2 million each for John and Patsy Ramsey and their son, Burke, and $10 million in punitive damages.
JonBenet, a former Little Miss Colorado, was found beaten and strangled in the basement of her parents’ home in Boulder, Co., on Dec. 26, 1996. (The Ramseys have since moved to Atlanta and also have a home in Michigan, according to legal papers.)
No criminal charges have been filed in the murder, and the Ramseys have long professed their innocence. In selected interviews, they also have said that they have evidence that links an intruder to JonBenet’s killing.
In March 2002, reports Reuters, the Ramseys reached an out-of-court cash settlement with a former detective who authored a book accusing the couple of killing JonBenet. The Ramseys agreed to drop a libel lawsuit against the ex-detective.