Sacramento Kings forward Richaun Holmes has retained lawyer Camille Vasquez — who famously represented Johnny Depp in his lawsuit against Amber Heard — for his defamation case.
Holmes sued the Sacramento Bee’s parent company, MClatchy Co., opinion writer Robin Epley, and his ex-wife Allexis for defamation regarding the outlet’s articles based on allegations of domestic and child abuse made by Allexis.
Allexis and Richaun divorced in 2019.
Vasquez brings a vast amount of experience to the case.
Depp was awarded a $10.35 million settlement in June for his defamation case after arguing that Heard’s claims of domestic abuse in a Washington Post op-ed were defamatory.
Heard appealed for a new trial in December, believing she received an unfair one stacked against her.
According to the 28-page lawsuit, which was filed in the Sacramento Superior Court on Wednesday, Allexis was in a custody battle with Richaun over their son last year and Richaun claims Allexis “attempted to turn the tides” of the battle by saying he “was abusive to her and to their son.”
The suit accuses the publication and Epley, who is a 2019 Pulitzer Prize finalist for her work as part of the Chico Enterprise-Record’s coverage of the Camp Fire, of “clinging to, and cashing in on, a false narrative, steeped in harmful racial stereotypes, in the face of mounting evidence that their chosen narrative was blatantly untrue.”
It further states Epley “amplified and endorsed” Allexis’ alleged claims despite ample evidence against the ex-wife’s credibility, such as publicly-available court filings and orders contradicting the claims made.
The lawsuit was filed to right the “damage to his reputation; damage to his personal brand, and goodwill in the community as a player for the Kings and in the NBA generally.”
“These actions were a coordinated and malicious effort to deliberately defame Mr. Holmes – a devoted father, son, and teammate. We will pursue all available remedies to rebuild from the damage that The Sacramento Bee, Epley, and Ms. Holmes have inflicted on Mr. Holmes,” Vasquez said in a statement. “Despite the publicly available court decisions disproving each of these allegations, this narrative will have a lasting impact on Mr. Holmes’ life and career. Mr. Holmes will continue to be the outstanding father, player, and community member he always has been, and we look forward to this matter being resolved.”
Public figures face higher legal hoops to jump through to win defamation claims against news organizations.
There must be sufficient evidence that the outlet acted with “actual malice,” meaning the publication either showed no regard for the truth or knowingly published false information to the public.
Allexis Holmes learned of the lawsuit on Thursday and stands by her claims, saying “I know the truth, and so does he,” she said. “I can’t wait for our first date in court.”
McClatchy, Epley, nor the Kings have made a comment on the lawsuit.
The series of columns and articles came between March and May of 2022 after Holmes missed the remainder of the Kings’ season upon the news of the alleged claims.
Richaun Holmes was given custody of his son in April by the Los Angeles Superior Court and is said to be “now thriving and healthy,” the lawsuit says.
This season, Holmes has only played a total of 34 games and appears to be an afterthought in the Kings’ rotation, averaging a mere 8.7 minutes and 3.2 points per game.