‘Psychic’ to Pay Millions for Defamatory Statements

A “psychic” in Texas who went to law enforcement authorities and told them that she was sure a local couple had a mass grave full of dismembered bodies of people they’d killed has been ordered to pay nearly $7 million in damages to that couple. Insert the obvious “she should have seen this coming” joke here.

A self-described psychic who triggered a media frenzy when she told authorities a Liberty County couple had a mass grave on their property has been ordered to pay the couple $6.8 million.

A Dallas County judge issued the judgment May 7 against Presley “Rhonda” Gridley, the sole remaining defendant in a lawsuit filed a year ago.

“Whether it will be collectible, we’re going to pursue that,” said Dallas attorney Andrew Sommerman.

He represents plaintiffs Joe Bankston and Gena Charlton in the suit that has concluded, except for efforts to collect the judgment.

The “psychic” didn’t even bother showing up to court in the suit.

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  • grumpyoldfart

    She won’t bother paying any of the $6.8 million either.

  • jamessweet

    Shouldn’t the sheriff’s office be held liable as well????

  • dingojack

    “The “psychic” didn’t even bother showing up to court…”.

    Well of course not – she already knew the result.

    😉 Dingo

  • Larry

    The state of America today: some looney “psychic” makes claims about a mass grave and the media treats it as a perfectly plausible and legitimate event requiring the entire Channel 7 news team to investigate it (with helicopters, no doubt) instead of simply blowing off the looney and her claim.

    I’m curious as to what the authorities did when presented with this report. I’d like to believe they blew it off but I have my doubts.

  • gshelley

    Damn it! I was about to say that

  • kobiarashi

    Obviously the couple are psychic as well. They “saw” that the police would investigate and moved the bodies before they turned up.

  • Trebuchet

    Obviously the couple are psychic as well. They “saw” that the police would investigate and moved the bodies before they turned up.

    That’s actually not far from the argument many fakers use when they fail the JREF’s Million Dollar Challenge — Randi used his powerful psychic ability to mess up their powers.

  • When initially filed, the suit’s defendants included Liberty County and six media outlets, which over time were dismissed.

    Why? It was their actions that made all those bogus claims so much more damaging than they otherwise would have been.

  • unbound

    @Raging Bee – Likely because of the court case in Florida where a local Fox News channel won in court that they didn’t actually have to be factual (http://www.relfe.com/media_can_legally_lie.html). I think that has made it much more difficult to pursue slander cases against the media.

  • Synfandel

    Presley “Rhonda” Gridley is going to have to swindle a lot of wealthy suckers before she can raise 6.8 rocks.

  • Morgan

    Looking at the linked article, it seems to me that the sheriff’s office is much more to blame than the ‘psychic’:

    The sheriff’s office repeated the false statements to various news media organizations and provided the plaintiff’s address, the suit states.

    I get that authorities may be obliged to follow up on claims like this because people with actual information may claim they got it from a vision rather than revealing the real source – but if you’re going to do that bit of due diligence on a claim so outlandish from a source so utterly without credibility, making any kind of statement to the media about it seems very much, and very obviously, both wrong and stupid.

  • “The ‘psychic’ didn’t even bother showing up to court in the suit.”

    I knew that would happen!



    She was there [pause for effect] in spiiiirit (Ooo-oo!).



    If you can think of a better way to get your septic tank dug up, I’d like to hear it.

  • slc1

    Speaking of psychics, here’s a story on Uri Geller, a phoney psychic and PK claimer who, apparently, was actually employed at one time by the CIA. Maybe the CIA should have consulted James Randi and Martin Gardner before wasting tax payers money on this clown.


  • Their claim against the sheriff’s office got dismissed, even though I think they’d bear the bulk of the blame here. Self-aggrandizers and the mentally ill make false reports all the time. The law is supposed to make sure they are credible before talking to the media.

  • You don’t have to be psychic to predict that accusing some random couple of being serial killers will get you sued.

  • unbound: I guess the media could have skated because they were acting on information from law-enforcement authorities. The sherriff’s office, however, amplified unsubstantiated statements from a source they should have known was unreliable, when they could have kept their mouths shut until they got a warrant and completed their search (seriously, is every search warrant preceded by a press conference?).

    (Next question: is a “psychic’s” word alone sufficient “probable cause” to get a search warrant?)

  • kenbo

    Isn’t filing a false police report a crime? How did the psychic avoid that?

  • erichoug

    I always wondered why the police even bothered with this one. I mean some woman calls(or did she walk in) and says she’s had a vision that there are a bunch of dead bodies on the premises. Why didn’t they just fake write it down on a piece if paper, round file it under “Nutbag, Crazy” and go back to watching Gomer Pile?

    I mean did she go in and say she had seen these people committing these crimes as opposed to having “seen” these people comitting crimes? Seriously, how much of an ass do you want to look like on National TV, cops?

  • erichoug: As I mentioned in an earlier thread, the cops probably had some pre-existing grudge, prejudice or suspicion about this couple. I can’t see them acting like they did, with only one “psychic’s” word to go on, if the intended target didn’t already at least look suspicious to them in some way or other.

  • Skip White

    Wait, this happened in Texas, and they took the “psychic” seriously, instead of burning her at the stake as a witch? Or was her weight different from that of a duck?

  • Larry

    instead of burning her at the stake

    I don’t think Texas has mastered that fire thing well enough yet to burn someone at the stake. Fire only magically appears when thousands of acres of brush burn during a drought or when chemical factories explode next to schools and senior citizen homes. Those have been relatively rare until recently…

  • erichoug


    Meh, I am not sure I buy the grudge thing. But, I definitely think there might be more to this than we are getting. But then, what was the quote about attributing to malice that which can be explained by stupidity?

    @Skip & Larry

    Yep, we’re all just a bunch of inbred, hick ass fundy morons here in Texas. Why we sit around oohing and ahhing about the miracle of fire while eating our roasted armadillo and wearing our furs.

    Good thing there aren’t millions of people just like you who would prefer not to be lumped in with the idiots and assholes that pop up in the news from time to time. Yup, that would make you a real pair of dickfaces for dismissing those millions just as other bigots would dismiss people based on gender, race, religion etc.


  • Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    Good thing there aren’t millions of people just like you who would prefer not to be lumped in with the idiots and assholes that pop up in the news from time to time.

    Good thing there aren’t, or they’d look awfully foolish for never doing anything about the idiots and assholes except passive-aggressively whining when people generalize based on the much more vocal idiots and assholes.

  • Lofty

    Silly people, fire is what you get when you pray for rain. Mysterious ways etc…

  • Jeff D

    I’d like to find the “journalist” who — sometime in the last 15 years or so — invented the phrases “a jury has ordered X to pay $$” and “a court has ordered Y to pay $$” . . . and give that journalist a dope slap.

    Jury verdicts are not “orders” for the defendant to pay anything to anyone. In a civil case, a court judgment, signed by a judge and based on a jury verdict or on the judge’s decsion after a bench trial, is not an “order” that the defendant pay money to the plaintiff. In 33 + years of law practice, I don’t think I’ve seen a single jury verdict or civil judgment that was worded explicitly as an “order to pay.” A civil jury verdict for the plaintiff is, simply, an award of money. So is a money judgment entered by the judge of a court. It’s a statement that the defendant owes Z dollars to the plaintiff. It is the creation of a debt. It is not an “order to pay,” in contrast to a monetary fine (as a penalty) in a criminal case.

    Even if the monetary award, the judgment, is not overturned or modified on appeal, there is no assurance that the sum of money awarded by a jury or a court is going to be collected. The defendant has no obligation to lift a finger to pay it. The defendant cannot be cited or jailed for contempt of court if he or she doesn’t pay (Another reason it is not an “order to pay” money). The plantiff and his or her lawyers have to take steps to collect, which can require further involvement by the county sheriff and the courts.

    Am I the only person who is bothered by this lazy, sloppy, “ordred to pay” nonsense? I suppose I am. Sorry about the mostly-off-topic gripe.

  • Skip White

    Whoops, I must have forgotten to put a (/sarcasm) tag on my previous post. I apologize not only for making a sweeping generalization of the population of a state, but also for being a dickface from a state whose population is not as easily generalized (Pennsyltucky). (/sarcasm)

  • Doug Little

    A self-described psychic who triggered a media frenzy

    This reflects highly on the media in question. /headesk.