CHARLESTON – A jury has awarded a former Miss West Virginia $7.2 million in damages over a bogus sex tape that circulated on the Internet.
Allison Williams, who won the 2003 Miss West Virginia pageant, filed her lawsuit in West Virginia's northern district federal court in 2005 against nearly 60 defendants.
A jury in Clarksburg on April 8 found that nine companies and individuals wronged Williams by posted the sex tape, which they falsely advertised as showing Williams having sex with an unidentified man in the back of a news van.
Federal Judge Irene Keeley entered her judgment order approving the verdict on Monday.
The defendants were ordered to pay Williams $800,000 apiece in compensatory and punitive damages.
The defendants that remained in the lawsuit, after the rest were dismissed, are:
* Eric Ridley and his company VidBidness, Inc., out of Calif.
* Ronald Yates and his company Etrax Productions out of Texas
* Castle Co. Pty. Ltd., The Moles Trust, Russell M. Moles, Gwendoline E. Moles and Guy Blomberg, all of Australia.
In her initial complaint, Williams sought $50 million in general damages in addition to unspecified punitive damages.
She said that as she was preparing for her first semester at West Virginia University College of Law in 2004, a friend told her about a favorable article that a newspaper had written about her.
Williams got on the Internet and searched her name, looking for the article.
Instead, she found links to Web sites that offered a sex tape that purportedly featured Williams.
Williams said she was not the woman in the tape and did not know who the man and woman featured on the tape were.
Williams is preparing to appeal Keeley's order dismissing the other defendants in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Lawyers Stephen M. LaCagnin, Andrew M. Wright and Woodrow Turner represented Williams.
Federal court case number: 1:05-cv-00051-IMK-JSK; Appeals court case number: 09-1412