Business law

The former law professor is suing accusers of misconduct in a $108 million defamation case

Joshua Wright uses a similar defense strategy as Johnny Depp after Amber Heard accused the actor of abusing him.
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  • Joshua Wright, a former law professor, has resigned after students accused him of sexual misconduct.
  • Wright then filed a defamation lawsuit against the former students, seeking $108 million in damages.
  • The strategy for filing a defamation lawsuit after allegations of abuse is similar to the strategy for filing a defamation lawsuit Depp v Heard.

A former law school professor is turning to an increasingly popular legal defense strategy after several students accused him of using his position to pressure them into romantic and sexual relationships.

Joshua Wright, former commissioner of the Federal Trade Commission The former law professor at George Mason University denies the allegations and has done so foot Defamation lawsuit against two students who accused him of misconduct after they took their concerns to a legal news outlet Law360.

It is seeking $108 million in damages, citing the loss of business and the “humiliation, embarrassment and mental anguish” caused by the charges in a defensive maneuver that legal experts told Insider has become a playbook for people accused of abuse following high-profile cases. Likes Johnny Depp vs Amber Heard And the counterclaim to Donald Trump vs. EJan Carroll.

Charges against Wright

Two of Wright’s former students, Elise Dorsey and Angela Landry, told Law360 that they felt Wright abused his power as their professor and forced them into romantic and sexual relationships with false promises of career advancement and opportunities in exchange for intimacy and companionship — and that professional opportunities were withheld from them when they rejected his advances.

Dorsey told the site that her relationship with Wright began in 2010 and continued on and off until 2021, and that the couple only engaged in sexual activity when she was in professional roles subordinate to him. Landry, who said her relationship with Wright began in 2010 and continued on and off until 2016, told Law360 that she also never had any sexual contact with Wright except when she was his student or employee.

Dorsey and Landry did not immediately respond to Insider’s requests for comment, but indicated to Law360 that they believe their relationships with Wright were part of a larger pattern of behavior involving “many” other women.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – MARCH 25: (From left) House Judiciary Committee Member Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA), FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, FTC Commissioner Joshua Wright, and FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai visit before A committee hearing on Internet regulation at the Rayburn House office building on Capitol Hill on March 25, 2015 in Washington, DC. Wheeler faced a series of tough questioning from Republicans on the committee about the FCC’s recent move to regulate broadband Internet service like utilities using Title II of the Communications Act.
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Wright strongly denies the allegations. In an emailed statement to Insider, he said that “every relationship” he’s ever been in “has been 100% mutual and consensual.”

“I am fully responsible for the decisions I made as an unfaithful spouse,” Wright said in a statement to Insider, adding that he has learned from his mistakes and is sorry for his ex-wife and his family. “As a lawyer, public servant and academic, I have never allowed any relationship to impair my professional duties.”

Eight women, including former students and colleagues of Wright, have come forward with their own accounts of his misconduct. bloomberg mentioned.

after “Inclusive“The university’s investigation into the Title IX allegations Dorsey made against Wright two years ago and the publication of the Law360 article, he resigned from his position at George Mason University earlier this month.

The Title IX complaint, according to Law360, includes allegations consistent with Dorsey’s claims to the enforcer.

George Mason University representatives confirmed that Wright no longer works at the school and declined to comment on specific personal incidents. However, they stated that the college is “confident that when prohibited conduct in this matter was brought to our attention at the College of Law, we acted in accordance with established university policies. The College of Law is deeply concerned by these allegations, and we aspire to eliminate these accusations.” Tolerating such behavior.”

“Revenge” worth $108 million

Wright said in his book: “Although I make no excuses for my personal shortcomings, I stand by my character and my career. I will always fight for the truth, and I will vigorously defend myself against the baseless lies that are spun as a scheme for financial gain.” Personality and bad reputation. Inward statement.

In addition to resigning from George Mason University, Wright says in the lawsuit that he lost clients and employment contracts at his law firm. Wright’s complaint says the financial losses, combined with the emotional distress he claims he suffered, justify the $108 million he is seeking from his accusers.

The complaint describes Dorsey and Landry as scorned ex-lovers who “set out to get revenge for ruining his reputation, portraying themselves as #metoo victims, and making a fortune in the process” by going public with their accusations.

George Mason University campus.

Wright responds with “Depp’s defense.”

The legal strategy used by Wright is part of a growing public reliance on defamation lawsuits to combat allegations of abuse and misconduct, three legal experts told Insider.

Examples can be seen in notable cases such as Johnny Depp vs Amber Heardthe anti-suit Donald Trump vs. EJan Carrollthe remaining families of Sandy Hook Victims vs. Alex JonesAnd Dominion Voting Systems v. Fox News.

“We’re seeing more defamation cases. This has been a difficult claim to make, but with the success of lawyers, we’re seeing more lawyers willing to take risks.” Tracy A. PearsonA legal analyst told Insider, adding that lawyers often consider their odds of success when considering whether to take a case.

Wright’s case is similar to Depp’s in that allegations of misconduct were published through the media. Both Wright and Depp chose not to sue the publications for amplifying the accusations against them, and instead filed a lawsuit against the women behind the allegations.

Amber Heard and Johnny Depp.

finally, Depp was awarded $10 million in damages and $5 million in punitive damages in his defamation lawsuit against Heard. In a countersuit alleging that Depp’s lawyer defamed her reputation, Heard was also awarded $2 million in damages.

Historically, lawyers have avoided defamation cases because the legal standard of “actual harm,” required to win a defamation complaint, was considered a high threshold of proof, said Trey Lovell, an attorney for the court. Lovell Corporationhe said from the inside.

Additionally, some states have provisions that prevent retaliation lawsuits, called anti-SLAPP legislation. Virginia, where this case was filed, has no such legislation.

It appears that juries have become more receptive to ruling on behalf of defamation claimants, especially after the significant gains achieved. Cases like Deb’s“,” Lovell told Insider. Therefore, complainants like Wright may see defamation accusations as an opportunity to obtain significant damages and a chance to share their side of the story.

“By showing that he’s going through the legal system and going after them for $108 million, it’s making a statement,” Lovell said of Wright’s legal strategy. “People will take a second look at him, they will read the complaint, they will read his side.”

Lovell added Reputation management Often a deciding factor in defamation filings like Depp’s, he said Wright’s gambit to file a defamation suit is a similar attempt to “control the narrative” that Dorsey and Landry shared about him.

Lindsay R. McKasson, an attorney from Binnall Law Group who represents Wright, said in a statement to Insider that Wright “filed suit to set the record straight.”

“These cases are rarely about financial damages, and are often a way to repair reputation,” Pearson told Insider. “That was the goal of Johnny Depp.”

She added, “There is always a risk in filing a defamation case that the person alleging defamation will damage his or her reputation through litigation. Sometimes, plaintiffs, in their desperate quest to clear their names, fail to recognize bad facts. The Johnny Depp case was essentially marital dispute. This case is different because there is a power difference between the student and the professor.”

Wright is seeking a jury trial. While it remains unclear whether the case will reach that point, the women, who now have successful legal careers, said they are no longer afraid of how Wright will impact their careers.

“I have many thoughts about this lawsuit, expressed by those who commented on it today, so I will not repeat them,” Landry said. books on social media in response to the posting of Wright’s defamation complaint. “The only thing I will say is that I refuse to be bullied and keep quiet.”

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