Defamation lawsuit against Cheryl Turpin dismissed

Posted at 12:38 PM, Nov 07, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-07 12:38:14-05

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – A lawsuit filed against Cheryl Turpin and her campaign was dismissed by a judge in court Wednesday, court documents say.

In a 2017 campaign ad against Rocky Holcomb, Turpin alleged local conservative activist Scott Presler was “the leader of a local hate group” who coordinated a joint rally with known neo-Nazis, identified as the group ACT for America.

Turpin’s campaign said the group works with neo-Nazis, but Presler said that’s not true.

Turpin wound up defeating Holcomb in that race.

Court documents say that Turpin’s statements against Presler have “sufficient defamatory sting” against him, but because Presler “regularly and visibly injects himself into the political world” through his work with ACT, he is a public figure with steeper rules on what statements are considered defamatory towards him.

The court documents went on to say that Turpin and her campaign made statements against Presler that they believed to be true, sourcing their information off existing articles, and did not meet the grounds for actual malice against him.

During an October hearing, the judge dismissed one of the counts of the lawsuit. Previously, two others had been dismissed, leaving just one left.

Related: State Senate candidate defends use of Virginia Beach shooting in campaign ad