In October last year, electronic music producer William Bensussen, aka The Gaslamp Killer, was accused of drugging and raping two women in 2013. The accuser, Chelsea Tadros, said that he drugged her and a friend, proceeded to rape them, and subsequently dropped them off in front of the Standard Hotel in Hollywood and drove off.
Tadros’s subsequent posts shared screenshots that painted a picture of Bensussen attempting to “cover up” the story. One month after the initial accusations, Bensussen filed a $5 million defamation lawsuit against Tadros, her friend, RaeAn Medina, and Medina’s boyfriend for “falsely and maliciously accusing him of drugging and raping them.” According to information provided by Bensussen’s attorney, “The boyfriend was subsequently dropped from the lawsuit, and the women filed an anti-SLAPP motion to have the defamation suit thrown out.”
Superior Court Judge Joanne O’Donnell ruled this week that the defamation suit would be allowed to move forward, as “the evidence Bensussen has presented so far had sufficient merit for a jury to decide Tadros had lied.”
Tadros’s attorney argued that her claims were protected by the First Amendment as long as she “believed in her mind” that Bensussen had committed the crimes of which she accused him, that the allegations were “opinions.”
However, O’Donnell ruled that Tadros’s allegations should be treated as facts that could be proven or disproven in court.
“This ruling is huge,” said Parag Amin, Bensussen’s attorney. “Of all the legal hurdles my client faced in bringing this lawsuit, this motion was the toughest to overcome. Because Bensussen is a public figure, the bar was extremely high. We had to show the Court that Tadros’s statements were most probably false and were most probably made with actual malice before we got to take any depositions or conduct any discovery.
“Now we look forward to our day in court, where my client can finally clear his name from Tadros’s fabricated and vile allegations.”
In large part, Bensussen’s case was aided by third-party eyewitnesses Peter Rosen and Christopher Salguero who were present for parts of the interactions between Bensussen, Tadros, and Medina.
According to sworn statements, Salguero was at The Standard Hotel when the women propositioned Bensussen, and Rosen, Bensussen’s then-roommate, described what he saw and heard regarding the interactions with the women before and after they went into Bensussen’s bedroom.
In addition, a toxicologist who specializes in date rape drugs also reviewed Tadros’s account. He gave a sworn statement saying Tadros’s account of being drugged was “virtually impossible” because it was inconsistent with the effects of any known date-rape drug.
Bensussen has been unable to book any work since the allegations first surfaced, and hopes to clear his name.
Photo via watchara