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Page 1 Editorial: When the facts don't match your story line, sue

Well, now we know what Amelia Graves plans to do for the next year instead of finally trying to start, at age 30, a professional career. She plans to focus instead on suing Vero Beach 32963.

Hardly surprising, we suppose, since Amelia’s  current “job” is working as a part-time research assistant for her mom, the attorney who most recently defended Kaitlyn Hunt.

But the lawsuit her attorneys filed last Friday against Vero Beach 32963 is nonsense – a desperate effort to resurrect Amelia’s fast-fading City Council campaign after the article and editorial in our Oct. 24 edition pointed out the many deficiencies in her resume.

The only statement Amelia chose to directly challenge in her lawsuit was our report questioning the 2009 claim on a website that she herself edited that she was pursuing a “Master’s Degree in Public Health” at the University of Florida.

Our report quoted UF Director of Media Affairs Ronald Robert Wayne as saying on Oct. 9, in response to our query, that “we have no record of her enrolled in a master’s program as of yet.”

But in a press release issued last Friday announcing that Amelia was suing us for “Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress,” attorney Adam Chrzan said that “in fact ,

Graves . . . was enrolled in its master’s program in Public Health in 2009.”

So who’s right?

Surprise, we are! 

In response to a follow-up question from us on Oct. 24, UF spokesman Wayne reconfirmed:  “She has not been enrolled in a graduate program, but she did return in 2009 as a post-baccalaureate student and took two courses.  She also returned in 2011 to take a course as a non-degree student. She was not enrolled in a master’s program.”

So what is the “evidence” of her enrollment that Chrzan submitted as exhibits along with the lawsuit?

A letter from the Director of Public Health Professional Education Program at UF confirming to Amelia that she had been admitted to the online “Graduate Certificate in Public Health” program – a 15-unit program in the “Division of Continuing Education” that is a far cry from the admissions process and far more extensive studies required for a master’s degree.

The letter also confirmed to Amelia that she had completed two courses but “at this writing you have not completed the full certification program.”  Hey, it’s only been four years.

So why would Amelia and her lawyer claim in a lawsuit that she had enrolled in a Master’s program when their own evidence shows that she only had taken a couple of certificate courses?

Well, it’s all about politics, isn’t it?  The lawsuit gives Amelia and her supporters a story to tell in the final hours before next Tuesday’s City Council election.  The balloting will be long over before a court finally gets to rule (assuming this frivolous litigation is pursued that far). See if the blogosphere can persuade voters that Vero Beach 32963 was wrong.   Maybe Amelia can still pull it out.  

Nice try, but it’s not going to work.

We are not wrong, and we obviously stand by last week’s front-page article and editorial on this matter.

And one other thing.  This is the first time in the five-year history of Vero Beach 32963 that we have been sued.  Like everyone else, we don’t like it.

But we have no intention of letting it intimidate us.  We have assembled a staff of professional journalists who take great pains to get our reporting right, and we have every intention of continuing – as has been our watchword from Day 1 – to provide our community with “news others miss or choose to ignore.”

We intend to mount a vigorous defense against the charges and have engaged attorney Louis B. "Buck" Vocelle, Jr., who will shortly file a motion to dismiss the suit.

We’re very sorry if our story and editorial on Amelia’s lack of experience caused her “emotional distress,” but when a newcomer to politics is running for a seat on the Vero Beach City Council, we think the role of a newspaper is to not just blindly accept the candidate’s story line but to take a look at the facts behind it.

That’s what we did.  We think our readers expect no less.