SANTEE, SC (WIS) – A South Carolina man has been awarded $890,000 in a defamation of character lawsuit because his condominium association mistakenly identified him as a sex offender.
“It was humiliating, embarrassing, disgusting,” said James King. “Living in a small town I wanted to protect my name.”
Three years ago, King owned two units at Lenora’s Santee Resort Inn just off I-95. He thinks it started because of a dispute with the board of directors over the fact he was about $200 behind on association fees.
“I don’t think that gives anybody any reason to do what they did,” said King.
King said those board members started going around the complex with fliers with the picture of William James King, Jr., a sex offender. The problem is, the photo was of a different William James King, Jr.
“After I’d heard it from the fourth or fifth person, and after I heard it from my friend at the bank…” said King.
Word of the flier made it’s way to King’s loan officer. At that point, he called attorneys Jason Daigle and Shaun Kent.
“The defendants claimed they weren’t telling people this was Jamie King, but asking people if it was Jamie King. We had fact witnesses whose testimony ran exactly counter to that,” said Daigle.
“It wasn’t an investigation,” said Kent. “It was a witch hunt. They weren’t going to listen to what anyone said.”
“These people can learn a lesson, and realize they can’t go around calling people what they want to,” King said. “It’s unfair, it’s disgusting and it can really hurt someone.”
King said he is happy that this is mostly behind them, as for the money he says he will be using it to send his daughters to college and buy a new house.
Defense attorneys have until today to file post-trial motions, including an appeals.
by Wayne Ridgeway