A Mississippi professor who went to high school with Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh is suing liberal news outlet HuffPost for defamation over a 2018 report that claimed he and a friend arranged the purchase and delivery of cocaine, leading to the death of a classmate, according to the Clarion-Ledger.
The professor, Derrick Evans, attended Georgetown Prep in the 1980s with Kavanaugh and was named in a HuffPost article from September 2018 that portrayed the school as having an "alcohol-and-drug-fueled" culture.
The HuffPost article reported that Evans and his friend Douglas Kennedy obtained cocaine that resulted in the death of Douglas' brother, David Kennedy, son of late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy.
"These statements were not only false and defamatory, but outrageously so, and were published by defendants with knowledge of their actual falsity or in reckless disregard of the truth for the apparent purpose of creating a salacious story designed to drive internet traffic to HuffPosts website," the lawsuit claims.
The article was published in the midst of the contentious confirmation process for Kavanaugh, whose appointment to the Supreme Court was nearly derailed by sexual assault and misconduct allegations, most notably from Christine Blasey Ford.
Much of the narrative constructed against Kavanaugh sought to portray him as a product of and participant in a culture of sexual misbehavior and alcohol abuse.
"Defendants had no sources to support their outrageously false and defamatory statements about Derrick Evans and Douglas Kennedy," the lawsuit read. "Nor did Defendants make any effort whatsoever to contact Mr. Evans for comment before accusing him not only of committing a crime, but of being responsible for the death of David Kennedy."
"Indeed, if Ms. [Ashley] Feinberg (the article's author) or her HuffPost editors had done even the most basic research of publicly available sources, she and they would have known, if they did not already know, that Mr. Evans actively assisted law enforcement in identifying and prosecuting the individuals who actually sold the illegal narcotics," it continued.
Evans is seeking unspecified damages. HuffPost initially issued a correction, which the lawsuit claims was also false, and eventually all references to Evans and the Kennedy brothers were removed from the story. HuffPost told the Clarion-Ledger it does not comment on pending litigation.