Tuesday, July 16, 2002

Jorg sues Lynch, BUF for $10M

By Marie McCain mmccain@enquirer.com
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Former Cincinnati Police Officer Robert “Blaine” Jorg has filed a $10 million defamation lawsuit against the Cincinnati Black United Front activist group and its president, the Rev. Damon Lynch III.

        The three-page lawsuit, filed Monday in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court, accuses the Rev. Mr. Lynch and the BUF of harming Officer Jorg's reputation by writing and publishing a letter that fueled the economic boycott of Cincinnati.

        The letter is the same document that prompted Mayor Charlie Luken to dismiss the pastor as co-chair of his Cincinnati Community Action Now commission.

        The suit also mentions about 50 other unknown defendants believed to have been involved in the creation of the letter and its distribution. It contains a 15-page addendum of questions about who else may have been involved in drafting and sending the letter.

        This letter, published in The Cincinnati Enquirer in December, accuses Officer Jorg of using a “marine-style chokehold” to kill Roger Owensby Jr., a 29-year-old College Hill man. Officer Jorg and several other officers were trying to arrest Mr. Owensby Nov. 7, 2000 in a Roselawn gas station when Mr. Owensby died.

        Officer Jorg, who now works as a police officer in Clermont County's Pierce Township, was acquitted in October of assault in the asphyxiation death of Mr. Owensby. Because jurors could not reach a unanimous decision, a mistrial was declared on the more serious involuntary manslaughter charge Officer Jorg also had faced. Pr osecutors chose not to retry him.

        A second Cincinnati police officer, Patrick Caton, was acquitted of an assault charge in the Owensby death.

        Kenneth Lawson, attorney for the Rev. Mr. Lynch and the BUF, called the suit an attempt to “intimidate Lynch and the BUF from strongly speaking out on the issues.”

        William Gustavson, Officer Jorg's attorney, said Monday's filing was part of Officer Jorg's effort to clear his name.

        “The law sets limits,” Mr. Gustavson said. “You can't go around saying bad things to hurt others. If you say these things you better be able to prove them or face the consequences of your actions.”

        Officer Jorg is also seeking to have the charges expunged. A motion is pending before Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Thomas Nurre..Mr. Lawson said he intends to file a counter suit against Officer Jorg. “When O.J. Simpson was found not guilty he was called a murderer by everyone from New York to California. 1/2hellip 3/4Just because you've been found not guilty doesn't mean you didn't commit the crime,” Mr. Lawson said.

        He added that since the case won't be retried in criminal court, he is prepared to prove the case in civil court: “We always look forward to a good fight.”


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