Lawsuit Stems From Allegations Contained In Detective's Book
6:56 AM, Mar 30, 2001
John and Patsey Ramsey are suing
former Boulder police detective Steve Thomas for statements in his
book in which he accuses the couple of having a role in their
The Ramseys (pictured, left) filed the libel and defamation lawsuit
Thursday against Thomas and unidentified officers at the Boulder
The 51-page complaint filed in Atlanta U.S. District Court
alleges that Thomas made false accusations about the couple in a
book he co-authored and in television interviews promoting the
book, titled "JonBenet: Inside the Ramsey Murder Investigation."
The suit accuses Thomas of securing a six-figure book contract
with the promise he would say Patsy Ramsey killed 6-year-old
JonBenet, and John Ramsey covered up the crime.
Thomas did not return messages left for him at his
The Ramseys are seeking $65 million from Thomas, publisher St.
Martin's Press, and several other defendants, including unnamed
Boulder police officials whom the Ramseys allege supplied Thomas
with material for his work.
The suit says the officers will be named after evidence is
assembled in the trial's discovery phase.
They allege Thomas libeled them; intentionally inflicted
emotional harm with his accusations; and violated their
constitutional rights by releasing information from an open
The Ramseys' attorney, Lin Wood, said the suit will provide
Thomas with an opportunity to depose the Ramseys and compel
disclosure of other facts "that will directly address whether they
were involved in the death of their daughter."
"These people are not afraid of facing their accuser in a
courtroom," Wood said of the Ramseys. "Let's put the jury in the
box and determine who's right and who's wrong, who's telling the
truth and who's lying."
JonBenet was found beaten and strangled in her family's home
Dec. 26, 1996. Police have said her parents remain under an
umbrella of suspicion, but no one has been charged in her death.
To prove libel, a plaintiff must show the statements are false
or made with a reckless disregard for the truth. If the plaintiffs
are public figures, as John and Patsy Ramsey could be considered,
they must prove the statements were made with actual malice.
Thomas' work is especially damaging because of his position in
the case, Wood said.
He said that when a grand jury declined to indict either parent in
1999, a fed-up Thomas pursued "his version of vigilante justice."
"He knows they will never be charged, so he'll just write a
book convicting them of the crime by bootstrapping his credibility
as a former detective," Wood said.