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Pittsburgh TV station WTAE accused in defamation suit

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Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

A lawsuit filed on behalf of a Fayette County woman accusing a Pittsburgh television station of defamation has been filed in U.S. District Court.

Originally filed in June against WTAE, the case was transferred to federal court last week. Named as the defendant is Hearst Stations Inc.

Kathy Bass, 49, claims in the lawsuit that a photograph bearing her likeness was broadcast in 2010 with a report on the arrest of a Kathy Ann Bass, 24, in a kidnapping case.

The case cited involved Kathy Ann Bass of New Salem, who was charged for conspiring with a Uniontown man to hold a Brownsville man at gunpoint and attempt to collect a ransom.

Attorney C.J. Engel states in the suit that the station “falsely reported” Bass's involvement in the “criminal incident.”

“In fact, Bass was not involved in this criminal incident whatsoever,” Engel wrote.

The suit claims that alleged broadcast caused Bass “harm to her reputation and standing in her community” and “personal embarrassment and humiliation.” Bass “received numerous calls and inquiries as to her supposed involvement in this incident and why it was reported she was involved,” the suit states.

The suit claims the station “negligently reported and broadcast” the information, “with reckless disregard for its truth or falsity, with malicious purpose and/or in bad faith.”

The suit requests damages but does not specify an amount.

Hearst attorney Jonathan Donnellan did not return a message seeking comment on Monday.

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