- The Washington Times - Monday, May 14, 2007

RICHMOND — Best-selling crime writer Patricia Cornwell has filed a libel lawsuit against another author and is asking a federal court to bar him from posting defamatory messages about her on the Internet, including accusations that she cribbed from his book about a modern detective solving a Civil War-era slaying.

Mrs. Cornwell wants the U.S. District Court to enforce an injunction it issued in 2000 against Leslie R. Sachs and seeks a broader ban to prevent Mr. Sachs from further writing negatively about her on Web sites or allowing such statements to remain on those sites. Mrs. Cornwell also seeks unspecified financial compensation for defamatory postings since Aug. 14, 2000.

Mr. Sachs called the lawsuit “hilarious.” His last known U.S. residence is listed in court documents as Woodbridge, Va. He calls himself a “political refugee” who moved to Europe in 2004 to escape Mrs. Cornwell’s legal actions.

A hearing in the case is scheduled for next Tuesday.

Mrs. Cornwell’s reputation has been hurt “personally and in the commercial marketplace,” and she has suffered “emotional distress as a result of the libels published by Dr. Sachs,” according to the complaint.

The injunction in 2000 stemmed from Mr. Sachs’ book “The Virginia Ghost Murders,” a mystery published in 1998 about a modern-day sleuth who becomes involved in solving a Civil War-era murder. Claiming that Mrs. Cornwell was about to publish a novel ripping off the plotline from his book, Mr. Sachs placed on the cover of his book: “The MUST-READ gothic mystery that preceded PATRICIA CORNWELL’S newest bestseller!”

Mrs. Cornwell’s complaint, filed in late April, claims Mr. Sachs refused several requests to remove the Cornwell reference on his book and to stop making such statements about Mrs. Cornwell, a former Richmond resident who now lives in Massachusetts. Mr. Sachs also published claims on two Web sites that the plot of Mrs. Cornwell’s 2000 book, “The Last Precinct,” mimics that of his book, and he put stickers on about 350 copies of “The Virginia Ghost Murders” claiming Mrs. Cornwell threatened to destroy his book.

“The Last Precinct” involves Virginia’s fictional medical examiner Kay Scarpetta trying to solve the violent slaying of one of America’s first settlers at Jamestown in the 1600s.

Mr. Sachs also has claimed that Mrs. Cornwell faces federal criminal charges “under evidence requested by White House Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald,” who investigated the leaking of the identity of former CIA operative Valerie Plame. Mr. Fitzgerald brought a multiple-count indictment against Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby Jr.

A phone message left with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Special Counsel in Chicago, where Mr. Fitzgerald is based, was not returned.

Mrs. Cornwell has denied all of Mr. Sachs’ accusations. One of her attorneys, James W. Morris III, declined to comment yesterday.

An e-mail message left for Mr. Sachs yesterday was not returned.

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