In an answer and defense filed this week by his attorney, Newton County Board of Education member Jeff Meadors formally denied blogging, or asking anyone to blog on his behalf, about Alcovy High School Principal LaQuanda Carpenter, who is suing Meadors, among others, accusing them of making defaming comments on the Newton Citizen's website.
Meadors attorney Jeffrey Foster filed the answer Monday in Newton County Superior Court, writing that neither Meadors himself, nor anyone acting on his behalf, have blogged or made statements about LaQuanda Carpenter and that the alleged statements are protected under the First Amendment.
"Allegations of Plaintiff's complaint involve statements of opinion that cannot be proven true or false which cannot form the basis of an action for defamation or libel, or the alleged statements are in fact true," Foster wrote.
In the filing, Meadors denied several claims made by Carpenter's attorney Stephanie Lindsey in an amended complaint where Meadors was formally named as a defendant, including that Newton Citizen bloggers MsLoy and Kbeet are unknown (Shannon Black has previously said that she is both of these bloggers); that the board of education addressed his concerns "by launching a detailed analysis of the role of Dr. Dennis Carpenter and whether it had any cross over influence involving the plaintiff (LaQuanda Carpenter) and her role in the Newton County School System;" that his concerns were "put to rest" and that he agreed there was no conflict of interest and the entire matter was closed to the board's satisfaction; that he used his column in the Citizen to post or solicit statements about either Carpenter with the sole purpose of damaging their reputations; that he created blog IDs and posted information he obtained in executive sessions as a board member; that he supplied several of the anonymous bloggers with false information that they then blogged about; and that several published statements made by anonymous bloggers were false.
However, Meadors also affirmed several statements, including that in January 2011, he expressed concern that LaQuanda Carpenter was working in the same school system as her spouse Dr. Dennis Carpenter, Deputy Superintendent of Operations for the Newton County School System; that he publicly praised both Carpenters in writing for the "work they were doing in the Newton County School System;" and that the statement that LaQuanda Carpenter "...did not buy tequila on a school trip, nor does she have any knowledge of the purchase of alcohol with school funds on any sanctioned school trip. This is a false statement."
Lindsey declined to comment on the filing, while Foster did not return emails seeking comment as of press time Saturday. Meadors has previously directed all questions regarding this case to go through his attorney.
In the first motions hearing in this case, Newton County Superior Court Judge Eugene Benton ordered Lindsey to attempt to notify bloggers named in the suit. She did so by posting several times on the Citizen's website. Those named had 30 days to chose what they would do, whether it be to stay silent and anonymous or to hire attorneys to represent them, who could do so while the bloggers remained anonymous.
Thus far, no new court date has been set.