DARE Officials File Libel Suit Against Magazine Journalist
Lawyers on behalf of DARE, the national drug-education program, filed a $10-million libel suit Monday against Stephen Glass, the young journalist accused of falsifying more than two dozen articles in prominent U.S. magazines.
It was the first libel action against Glass since his fabrications were exposed last month, embarrassing the magazines that employed him and prompting many publications to review their fact-checking procedures.
In a Los Angeles federal court suit, DARE U.S.A. said its reputation was severely tarnished by articles that Glass wrote about the organization for New Republic and Rolling Stone magazines.
A 1997 article in New Republic, titled “Don’t You Dare,” accused the program of encouraging children to turn in their parents for suspected drug use. Glass cited the case of a 10-year-old boy who, he said, was talked into doing just that by officials at the DARE chapter in Douglasville, Ga.
In fact, the suit charged, there was no DARE program in Douglasville, a fact that DARE attorneys pointed out in a letter to the magazine after the article was published.
New Republic fired Glass when the scandal broke in May and undertook a review of his work, finding that 27 of Glass’ 41 articles for the magazine were entirely or partly made up.
An attorney for the 25-year-old Glass has been quoted as saying his client confirmed the magazine’s findings.
The DARE lawsuit also accuses Glass of libeling the organization in an article this year for Rolling Stone. The article accused DARE leaders of trying to “silence critics, suppress scientific research and punish nonbelievers.” As an example, Glass wrote that DARE officials retaliated against an Illinois college professor who had criticized the program by falsely accusing him of trying to sell drugs to students on campus.
The professor, who was named and quoted in the article, “is an entirely fictitious character,” the lawsuit said.
“Glass had taken free license to invent facts, people and scenarios, falsely describing them in detail,” the suit added. “DARE was one victim of many. There is absolutely no truth to Glass’ statements regarding DARE and Glass has admitted as much.”
Although the lawsuit named only Glass as a defendant, DARE’s lawyers said in their complaint that they reserve the right to add the New Republic and Rolling Stone as defendants pending further investigation.
They charged that the magazines “aided, abetted and assisted” in the fabrications about DARE, or Drug Abuse Resistance Education, “solely for sensationalism and to sell copy.”
Glass’ lawyer could not be reached for comment Monday.