Texas Court Hits Psychic With $6.8 Million Defamation Verdict Linked To False Police Report

220px-John_William_Waterhouse_-_The_Crystal_BallThere is an interesting torts case out of Dallas where Judge Carl Ginsberg in the 193rd State District Court, ruled against Presley “Rhonda” Gridley, a self-described psychic who created a national frenzy by telling authorities that a Liberty County couple, Joe Bankston and Gena Charlton, had a mass grave on their property. She has been ordered to pay the couple $6.8 million.

As a psychic, Gridley, 50, did not appear to see this one coming. She did not appear for the bench trial where she was found to have committed defamation for giving false information to the police on June 6, 2011. The damages include $3 million in damages to Bankson and $3,849,000 to Charlton, plus five percent interest.

Gridley goes by the name “Angel” and called the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office and falsely claimed that 25 to 30 dismembered bodies were buried in a mass grave at the plaintiffs’ residence.

The case is interesting because statements to police are usually protected, though they can be prosecuted as false statements to the police. The police then repeated the false statements to various news outlets and created the firestorm. It is perfectly bizarre. The police hear from a psychic named Angel and run to the media to trigger a frenzy. What followed was an army of helicopters, cars, cadaver dogs, and police officers searching the property on the basis of this one “vision.”

It turns out that Gridley also called a police station two hundred miles away telling a dispatcher that she is a “reverend and a psychic” and that they would find the bones of dozens of missing children in the walls and “stuff written all over the walls in blood.”

Yet the original charge against the County were dismissed, leaving only Gridley. There is no record of any disciplinary action against the police for starting the media circus or taking such action on the word of someone who is obviously psychotic rather than psychic.

Gridley has said that this was just one of the many visions that she has had her whole life. She confirmed her visions, she said, with two friends who also had visions of children being in danger.

Something tells me that “Angel” is not only certifiably insane but judgment proof. Call it a vision.

Source: Chronicle

16 thoughts on “Texas Court Hits Psychic With $6.8 Million Defamation Verdict Linked To False Police Report”

  1. “The damages include $3 million in damages to Bankson and $3,849,000 to Charlton, plus five percent interest.”

    That is all very well but Gridley may not have the funds to pay.

    I cannot believe that the authorities still allow these con artists to continue to ply their trade . It simply allows them to run a business extracting cash by deception out of the stupid, the desperate, the ignorant and the naive (and to cause problems as described in the article).

    If there was the political will it would be fairly easy to get rid of most of these charlatans who are nothing but performers, actors and deceivers preying on the weak, stupid and vulnerable . It appears that for the most part, they get around limited trade practice and consumer laws by pretending they are simply officially providing “entertainment” when, of course in reality, nothing could be further from the truth.

    I am sure, even now, they frequently step over the limited legal threshold in the way they ply their deceptive trade but there is no one calling them to account. In fact this story is indicative of just how stupidly taken in some elements in society are with these con artists.

    I think Darren Smith described what should have happened just so very well. But when you add all the ignorant fools into the mix – and there is seemingly no shortage of them – this story is what we get.

  2. This entire thing could have been prevented from the beginning.

    Complainant: There is a mass grave at 123 Main Street
    Officer: How do you know this?
    Complainant: I am a psychic and the Tarot cards revealed this to me.
    Officer: Thank you for your call. {click}

  3. To be stupid, you have to buy the hokum. That police in TX are no easily motivated by spirits means yet another reason there’ll be no vacations to Texas this century.

  4. Don’t know who is worse the Psycho-ic for saying it, or any number of deluded fools for believing and repeating it.

  5. This is a rather poorly written article to be honest. The subject (Gridley) has changed gender at least 3 times during the whole thing.

  6. Seems a shame the police and media got off completely free in this case. Just because some crazy calls the cops, there doesn’t need to be a media firestorm. The cops and media are to blame for that.

  7. I vaguely remember this incident. The cable news outlets went live w/ it.

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