- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 13, 2014

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (AP) - Idaho businessman Frank VanderSloot wants to include a former Post Register reporter in his defamation lawsuit against Mother Jones magazine.

The Idaho Falls newspaper reports (https://bit.ly/1lsKhDX) in a story on Tuesday that attorneys for VanderSloot have requested that Peter Zuckerman be added to the list of defendants.

VanderSloot, the CEO of direct marketing company Melaleuca, filed the lawsuit against Mother Jones in Idaho Falls’ 7th District court in January 2013.

He contends a February 2012 article about him and two tweets promoting the article prompted national criticism.

VanderSloot’s attorneys have also filed a separate defamation lawsuit against Zuckerman in the event the court doesn’t allow the addition to the current defamation suit.

VanderSloot’s attorneys say the filings against Zuckerman stem from Zuckerman’s appearance on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show” in May 2012.

VanderSloot’s attorneys want Zuckerman added to the list of defendants being sued for “knowingly and maliciously publishing false statements” depicting VanderSloot in national media as a “gay-basher.”

“We regret that we have been forced to sue Peter Zuckerman, but his actions and public statements have made a lawsuit necessary in order to correct the public record,” VanderSloot attorney Tom Clare said in an emailed statement.

The case against Zuckerman centers on a May 4, 2012, appearance on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show,” where Zuckerman asserted VanderSloot publicly “outed him” as gay in a 2005 full-page advertisement in the Post Register.

The ad, placed by VanderSloot, disputed the paper’s reporting in a series about pedophilia in the Boy Scouts. Zuckerman, who worked at the Post Register from 2003 to 2006, was lead reporter on the series. He has claimed, as a result of the ad, he suffered homophobic harassment and that his then-boyfriend, Dylan Stone, was fired from his job.

VanderSloot’s original lawsuit against Mother Jones was filed after Zuckerman’s claims were included in a Feb. 6, 2012, Mother Jones article and in tweets promoting the story.

The lawsuit was filed against Zuckerman several weeks after he and Stone were deposed as witnesses in the Mother Jones suit. Those depositions have been sealed as confidential at the request of Mother Jones’ lawyers. But court documents do include an affidavit from Stone in which he admits to giving inaccurate information about being fired as a result of the newspaper ad.

Stone said in the affidavit: “To the best of my knowledge Mr. VanderSloot’s comments about Peter Zuckerman did not get me fired from any job nor did they cause me any problems with my employer.”

Mother Jones’ attorney James Chadwick issued the following statement on behalf of Zuckerman: “We are reviewing the complaint. One thing that’s clear is that Mr. VanderSloot has never asked that Peter correct anything, so the lawsuit against him came as quite a surprise.”

The May 1 complaint against Zuckerman demanded a jury trial and monetary damages and/or attorney fees not to exceed $74,999.

The Mother Jones lawsuit is awaiting a trial date.

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Information from: Post Register, https://www.postregister.com

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