- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 22, 2007

RICHMOND — Best-selling crime writer Patricia Cornwell appeared in court yesterday to ask a federal judge to permanently bar another author from posting defamatory messages about her on the Internet.

Miss Cornwell denied Leslie R. Sachs’ accusations that she is a “Jew-hater,” a felon under federal investigation and a “neo-Nazi” and said the accusations have caused her anxiety, fear and sleeplessness. She said the escalation of the postings against her was the main reason she moved from Richmond to Massachusetts in 2001.

“I said, you know, you can accuse me of a lot of things but hating a group of people or being a felon” is beyond the pale, said Miss Cornwell of postings and e-mails by Mr. Sachs, whose last U.S. residence is listed in court documents as Woodbridge, Va., but called himself a “political refugee” who moved to Europe in 2004 to escape Miss Cornwell’s legal actions.

The hearing was part of a libel lawsuit Miss Cornwell filed against Mr. Sachs, who didn’t have legal representation present. Mr. Sachs did not return an e-mail seeking comment.

The judge did not say when he would decide on Miss Cornwell’s request.

Miss Cornwell, who said Mr. Sachs’ rants were a “huge distraction from the creative process,” also told U.S. District Judge Norman K. Moon that she has had to hire two full-time bodyguards and “massively increase” her security measures, which has prohibited her from doing in-person appearances to promote her last two novels.

“I don’t meet my fans anymore,” said Miss Cornwell, who was accompanied by three security guards posted inside and outside the courtroom. “That’s been a great source of sadness and loss. It’s dehumanizing my career.”

She also denied Mr. Sachs’ claim that she plagiarized from his self-published book “The Virginia Ghost Murders” in her 2000 novel “The Last Precinct,” and said all of Mr. Sachs’ voluminous accusations have caused immeasurable harm to her reputation.

When asked by her lawyer, Joan A. Lukey, whether she hated Jews, Miss Cornwell responded that she was outraged by the accusation and said that she had Jewish friends, agents and lawyers.

“I’m married to somebody Jewish,” she also said.

Miss Cornwell said her biggest concern is about possible damage to her reputation, which could harm her ability to gain access to sources that can help her do research for subsequent books. She also testified that large donations that she’s made to charitable groups have been listed as “anonymous.”

“My reputation is all I’ve got,” she said.

A University of South Carolina psychiatrist testified by teleconference that Mr. Sachs’ behavior can be classified as cyberstalking.

Dr. Donna Marie Schwartz-Watts reviewed Mr. Sachs’ postings and said she couldn’t directly gauge his intent, but thought he presents a potential risk to Miss Cornwell in that his “emotionally loaded remarks could incite people who share his views.”

Miss Cornwell wants the court to enforce an injunction issued in 2000 against Mr. Sachs and seeks a broader ban to prevent him from further writing negatively about her on Web sites or allowing such statements to remain on the sites.

She also seeks unspecified financial compensation for defamatory postings since Aug. 14, 2000, when another federal judge issued the injunction against Mr. Sachs.

Miss Cornwell said after the hearing limits should be made on what can be posted on the Internet.

She also said no price can be put on the damage, but Mr. Sachs should be held accountable for his actions.

“Someone should not be able to run away from the consequences of their despicable behavior,” Miss Cornwell said. “How that is remedied, I don’t know, but someone should not be granted asylum in one country because they are violating injunctions and damaging people in another.”

Miss Cornwell plans to pay her own security bill for a publicity tour to promote her next novel, “Book of the Dead,” scheduled to be released in the fall.

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