Juwan Howard of the Washington Wizards went to court Thursday seeking $1 and his reputation. He left with an award of more than $100,000 and a promise from a judge that he would get his name back.
"Hopefully this sends a strong message to Melissa Reed and others like her," Howard said of the judgment against the Connecticut woman he sued in Montgomery County, Md. Circuit Court for defamation of character.
Last April, Reed accused Howard and his teammate at the time, Chris Webber, who now is with the Sacramento Kings, of sexually assaulting her at a party at Howard's Potomac, Md. home.
In May, a grand jury decided not to bring criminal charges against the two players, but Howard said Thursday that he still felt that his reputation was stained and had to be restored through civil action.
"Society likes to believe a lie," said his attorney, Mitchell Rubenstein.
Judge Durke G. Thompson made it clear that he believed Howard and not Reed, who did not show up for the proceeding and failed to respond to the lawsuit.
"Your reputation will be restored," Durke promised Howard, before awarding him $100,000 in compensatory damages plus legal costs.
cannot surmise what her motive may have been," Durke said, but speculated, "people do pretty stupid things when they are under the influence of alcohol."
Juwan Howard leaves Montgomery County Circuit Court Thursday after winning his defamation suit. (AP)
Lt. Michael Garvey, who investigated Reed's allegations, testified that Reed had onsumed alcohol the night she accused the players of sexually assaulting her. She may have been under the influence of alcohol when she called police to report the allegations, he told the judge.
Garvey also testified that Reed contradicted herself on several occasions during the investigation.
The players were not the only people adversely affected by Reed's false statements, said Thompson. "It creates a great deal of difficulty in the faithful administration of justice by the police, prosecutors and courts," he said.
Howard pledged to donate the money awarded to him to the D.C. Rape Crisis Center.
And Rubenstein pledged to "do whatever it takes to collect that money for that center."
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