Beauty school claims slander

CHARLESTON - A Charleston beauty school is claiming that two of its former students have slandered it and are also suing the state's Human Rights Commission and Attorney General's office for not getting to the bottom of the dispute.

All totaled, the plaintiffs seek nearly $2 million.

The Charleston Academy of Beauty, Judy Hall and Cheri Bishop filed the lawsuit Sept. 18 in Kanawha Circuit Court because of the alleged actions of Harry Robinson and Tyleemah Edwards.

The Human Rights Commission and Executive Director Donald Raynes, Administrative Law Judge Elizabeth Blair and commissioners Willie Williams, Marion Copehart, Betsy Haught and H.R. Wittington are named as defendants.

So are Attorney General Darrell McGraw and Senior Assistant Attorney General Jamie Alley.

Hall, of Cross Lanes, is the manager and part-owner of Charleston School of Beauty Culture, where Bishop is also an employee.

They claim Edwards and Robinson have falsely proclaimed that they were discriminated against and accused Bishop of using racial slurs. They also say Edwards filed a false report claiming she was assaulted by Hall and produced a bogus photograph of injuries she claimed were sustained during the incident.

They also blame the Human Rights Commission and the Attorney General's office for not knowing Edwards' claim is untrue. The complaint says Edwards also claimed her jewelry was stolen at the school despite being seen wearing it afterwards, and that on May 18, 2004, she caused a scene by ranting and screaming at the school.

"The aforementioned damages were severely aggravated by the subsequent actions of the Human Rights Commission as well as the Attorney General and his agents," the complaint says. "The HRC… as well as the Attorney General… knew or should have known of the falseness of said allegations."

An order was drawn up March 14, 2005, to dismiss Edwards' claim but it was rescinded a day later, the complaint says.

"In failing to adequately investigate the false claims and accusations of Harry Robinson and Tyleemah Edwards, the Office of the Attorney General has aided and assisted in propagating the false claims and accusations made against the plaintiffs," the complaint says..

In attempting to convince other students to drop out, the plaintiffs say Robinson and Edwards interfered with their business.

They also charge an intentional infliction of emotional distress and a violation of civil rights.

Bishop is seeking $500,000 in compensation for damage to her health and well-being and another $500,000 for damage to her professional reputation.

Hall is seeking $250,000 for health and well-being and $500,000 for damage to her professional reputation.

Stephen Hall is representing the plaintiffs.

Judge Jennifer Bailey Walker has been assigned the case.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number 06-C-1949

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