- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 14, 2007

ELKTON, Md. (AP) — A jilted lover who wrote a book of lies about his former girlfriend, then distributed it to her workplace and family, owes her $52,000 for defamation, a Cecil County jury decided.

Charles W. Azain, 56, said he was despondent over his 2004 breakup with the plaintiff, Bonnie Gifford. He wrote a 54-page manuscript called “The Bonnie Chronicles,” in which he falsely accused her of having HIV and bipolar disorder.

“You could call it ‘temporary insanity,’ I guess,” Mr. Azain told jurors.

The panel took 30 minutes Wednesday to agree to a defamation-of-character count against Mr. Azain in the civil action.

Edward Andre Richitelli, Miss Gifford’s lawyer, told the Cecil Whig newspaper that Mr. Azain sent copies of the manuscript to Rising Sun Middle School, where Miss Gifford taught sixth grade. He also sent a copies to the Cecil County public schools’ administrative office, to Miss Gifford’s mother and to her adult children.

In the manuscript, Mr. Azain wrote that students may be at risk because of Miss Gifford’s purported HIV status.

Mr. Richitelli produced medical test results showing neither Miss Gifford nor Mr. Azain has HIV. The bipolar claim was also unsupported.

The manuscript was not distributed by a publisher, but Maryland law defines publication as any distribution of information to a third party.

Mr. Azain told the newspaper he is considering an appeal.

“I hired a lawyer, but I ran out of money,” he said.

The jury this week awarded Miss Gifford $50,000 in punitive damages and $2,000 in compensatory damages. She originally sought $350,000 in punitive damages and $150,000 in compensatory damages.

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