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Gropenator Sued for Libel

LOS ANGELES – A woman who alleged sexual harassment by Arnold Schwarzenegger filed a libel lawsuit Monday against the governor, saying his staff falsely suggested in an e-mail that she was a convicted felon.

Rhonda Miller, who alleges Schwarzenegger groped her when she was working as a stunt woman, says she has never been arrested and that the false information about her was broadcast on national television reports.

Miller made the groping allegations in a news conference on Oct. 7, the day before the California gubernatorial recall election with her attorney Gloria Allred by her side. She said Schwarzenegger lifted her shirt to photograph her breasts and groped her twice, when she worked as a stunt double on the film “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” in 1991 and in 1994 on the set of “True Lies.”

Within hours, the Schwarzenegger campaign sent an e-mail to several reporters directing them to the Los Angeles Superior Court Web site and instructing them to type in the name “Rhonda Miller.” That produced court records for another woman named Rhonda Miller, who had a long criminal record.

The e-mail, sent by Schwarzenegger adviser Sean Walsh, said: “We have to believe that as a lawyer Gloria would have thoroughly checked the facts and background of the individual she presented at a news conference today.”

The e-mail also noted that Allred was a large contributor to Democratic candidates, including then-incumbent governor Gray Davis

Attorney Paul Hoffman, who is representing Miller along with Allred in her libel lawsuit, said the Schwarzenegger campaign deliberately misled reporters about Miller’s background in order to raise doubts about her allegations until the election was over.

“They destroyed her life for one day’s advantage,” Hoffman said.

Schwarzenegger attorney Marty Singer said Allred was using the lawsuit to seek publicity, and that he expected it to be dismissed.

He denied that Walsh’s e-mail suggested Miller had a criminal record, saying Walsh’s remarks about her background could have referred to statements from others who worked on movie sets with her and Schwarzenegger. He also said her allegations appeared to be unfounded.

The e-mail “does not state specifically that this is the same woman who was making the claim the night before the election,” Singer said.

At the Oct. 7 news conference, Allred acknowledged that it was too late to file a complaint against Schwarzenegger for the alleged groping, but she warned that her client could file a defamation suit if the Schwarzenegger campaign spoke out against her in responding to her allegations.

When a reporter reminded Allred of that statement, she smiled and chided the Schwarzenegger campaign for not taking her at her word.

The lawsuit was announced at a news conference Monday held at Hoffman’s office, two blocks from Schwarzenegger’s campaign headquarters.
 

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