PARKERSBURG- An answer was filed Tuesday by the daughter of Wood County Surveyor Scott Stewart to the lawsuit he filed against her for accusing him of sexual assault.
Holly Jane Belle, formerly known as Holly Jane Stewart, represented by attorney Harry Deitzler, denied she published any defamatory statements about her father because, as her answer states, "statements are not defamatory if they are true."
"Statements that the defendant made about the plaintiff, to wit: that he 'sexually assaulted, sexually abused and or sexually molested her while she was a minor' are absolutely true," Deitzler stated. "For those reasons the defendant denies the allegations in paragraph three of Scott Stewart's complaint."
In addition, the answer stated a denial that Stewart suffered damage to his reputation, alleging he had a bad reputation and it was not susceptible to damage.
Belle's decision to make public statements were called proper, appropriate, necessary and lawful in the lawsuit answer.
"... In the best interests of public safety and the prevention of potential sexual assaults or abuse which the plaintiff may have otherwise committed upon the defendant or others in the future," the suit stated.
In denying Belle is liable, the suit said Stewart can only sustain an action if he can prove the statements were false and misleading and she knew the statements were false and misleading or she published them with reckless and willful disregard of the truth.
The lawsuit is an "inappropriate, misleading and unethical Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (S.L.A.P.P. lawsuit) intended to solely censor, intimidate and silence Holly Jane Belle from telling the truth," Deitzler said. "The intent of the lawsuit is to burden her with the cost of legal defense in an effort to cause her to abandon her truthful revelations necessary for the criminal prosecution and punishment of Scott F. Stewart. The plaintiff's (Stewart's) lawsuit is frivolous and malicious."
Deitzler said Stewart and his attorney George Cosenza are in violation of Rule 11 (b) (1), (3) and (4) of the West Virginia Rules of Civil Procedure. He said the alleged violation is flagrant and inexcusable and they should be subjected to severe sanctions.
Rule 11 states by presenting to the court a pleading, written motion, or other paper-whether by signing, filing, submitting, or later advocating it-an attorney or unrepresented party certifies that to the best of the person's knowledge, information, and belief, formed after an inquiry reasonable under the circumstances:
(1) it is not being presented for any improper purpose, such as to harass, cause unnecessary delay, or needlessly increase the cost of litigation;
(3) the allegations and other factual contentions have evidentiary support or, of specifically so identified, are likely to have evidentiary support after a reasonable opportunity for further investigation or discovery; and
(4) the denials of factual contentions are warranted on the evidence or, if specifically so identified, are reasonably based on belief or a lack of information.
At the end, the defense asks the complaint be dismissed and that Belle be awarded costs, as well as damages for annoyance, inconvenience, harassment, intimidation, and censorship she has suffered. The defense also asks the court to impose Rule 11 sanctions against Stewart and his counsel, if warranted.