Home » News » Judge dismisses Notre Dame professor’s defamation lawsuit against student newspaper

By The Associated Press, published on January 9, 2024

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University of Notre Dame library. Photo courtesy iStock: ReDunnLev

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — A judge on Jan. 8 dismissed a University of Notre Dame’s professor’s defamation lawsuit against a student-run publication over news coverage of her abortion-rights advocacy.

St. Joseph County Superior Court Senior Judge Steven David found that sociology professor Tamara Kay’s assertions that The Irish Rover‘s coverage of her was false and defamatory were unfounded.

“The Court concludes that Dr. Kay does not present any evidence that shows that The Irish Rover had any doubts about the truth of their statements before they were published. By failing to present such evidence, the Court concludes that Dr. Kay’s defamation claim fails as a matter of law,” David’s ruling said.

The defamation case had raised questions about press freedom and academic freedom at one of the nation’s preeminent Catholic universities.

Kay’s lawsuit disputed some quotes the newspaper used and said it had misinterpreted a sign on her door about helping students gain access to health care. She had argued that her motivation was to support sexual-assault victims.

An email was sent to Kay seeking comment on the dismissal of her suit.

W. Joseph DeReuil, the Rover‘s editor-in-chief at the time, said in a prepared statement that he “was gratified to see today’s court ruling confirm what we at The Irish Rover were sure of all along: our reporting was completely factual and written in good faith.”

Kay had asked for unspecified punitive damages. Her lawsuit alleged she had been harassed, threatened, and experienced property damage as a result of the articles.

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