Sacred Heart University settles defamation lawsuit

By Phil Hall

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Sacred Heart University has settled a defamation lawsuit brought by a man who was incorrectly identified by the Fairfield-based school as a suspect in an off-campus rape case involving a 19-year-old student.

According to a Connecticut Post report, the school’s Department of Public Safety issued leaflets featuring a photograph of Bridgeport resident Gary Douglas as a suspect in a sexual assault that occurred last April 1. However, Douglas was never identified as a suspect by law enforcement and another man, Alfonso Reid, was arrested five days after the assault occurred. Douglas stated that Sacred Heart refused to retract the leaflets despite Reid’s arrest and filed a $1 million defamation lawsuit.

While the terms of the settlement were not made public, the school released a written apology. “We realize you had no involvement whatsoever in that incident and regret that your photograph was mistakenly displayed by security at the university,” said Paul J. Healy, director of the university’s emergency management and public safety office, in the letter to Douglas. “We wish you the best of luck in all your future endeavors.”

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About the author

Phil Hall
Phil Hall is a former United Nations-based reporter for Fairchild Broadcast News, the author of seven books, the host of the SoundCloud podcast "The Online Movie Show" and a writer with credits in The New York Times, New York Daily News and Wired.

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