Now that Mariah Yeater’s text messages have revealed that Justin Bieber is not the father of her baby, time will tell whether Beiber will go forward with legal action against the young woman — who was out to get support money from the pop star with a paternity suit that’s now been withdrawn. She claimed a quick backstage tryst. He says he never even met her.
And time will tell whether Matthew Fox will succeed with legal action against Ohio bus driver Heather Bormann, who said the former “Lost” star punched her. Authorities found insufficient evidence to press criminal charges against Fox, and last week, he countersued Bormann.
Whatever the outcomes, this is true: One of the dark sides of fame is that celebrities are targets for attempts at legal money grabs and vendettas by people in their lives, people they barely know — or sometimes, people they’ve never even met. When such attempts involve sex and the proverbial he said/she said, the potential for injustice grows exponentially for those who are innocent — yet have to endure high-cost legal battles and negative press that can cause real harm to careers and lives.
Consider the case of Michael Flatley. Ireland’s “Lord of the Dance” was sued for $35 million in 2003 by a woman who claimed that he had raped her in a Las Vegashotel room. Flatley’s version of events had it that the first he heard of the claim was two months after they’d spent the night together, consensually, when the woman’s attorney contacted Flatley’s attorney saying she’d tell the public Flatley had raped her if he didn’t pay a specified amount. He declined, contacted the FBI to investigate – and filed a $100 million lawsuit against her and her lawyer. Flatley’s suit alleged that the attorney had committed extortion, intentional infliction of emotional distress, defamation, fraud, and wrongful interference with business relations.
Flatley’s attorney explained: “We filed the lawsuit because what this lady did was outrageous…It will do tremendous damage to Mr. Flatley. Even when he wins the case, some people will still believe the accusations.”
The case against Flatley was eventually thrown out (while a motion to dismiss his countersuit was denied), but that event was barely a blip on the media radar – until a couple years later, when DNA tests showed that Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher had fathered the two-month-old baby of Tyna Marie Robertson.
Robertson is the same woman who sued Flatley. The information came to light that Robertson had dated other wealthy and well-known men through the years – relationships that sometimes ended in litigation – through private investigator Ernie Rizzo, who noted that he worked for Urlacher and Flatley.
Obviously, sometimes accusations of sexual misconduct against celebrities are true – and there are also certainly many instances of guilty parties who never suffer any consequences. But those wrongs don’t make the injustice of the above circumstances any less clear.