Freelance Producer Decides Not to ‘Drop the Fucking Lawsuit Against ABC’

ABC News’s frustrations over a bizarre, years-long battle with Gregory Slate, a litigious freelance investigative reporter, came to a head this month, when Nathan Siegel, the network’s counsel, got into a physical tug-of-war with Mr. Slate during a deposition hearing. It began when Mr. Siegel handed Mr. Slate, who is representing himself, a document he had requested. Then Mr. Siegel suddenly remembered it had been printed on both sides and had confidential information on the back. 

The copyright infringement suit is now in the US District Court in D.C., but it concerns undercover footage of cops drunk on duty in Chicago and witnesses deposed everywhere from Tallahassee to New York, including anchor Elizabeth Vargas. 

Mr. Slate claims to have obtained the bad cop tape for a story pitched individually to 20/20 producer Glenn Ruppel in 2007, with the understanding it was worth six figures, although that piece eventually fell through. After bits of the Chicago footage aired in May 2008 in entirely different segment, Mr. Slate cried foul. ABC contends they have paid for the work via Mr. Slate’s former associate Diop Kamau, a shady former cop and police abuse expert. 

As if it weren’t hard enough to win a copyright infringement case pro se, the suit has brought a cast of seedy characters, not all of whom have been contracted by ABC News, out of the woodwork.

In 2009, Mr. Slate obtained a restraining order against Mr. Kamau, whom he alleges threatened to burn his house down and cause his family bodily harm after becoming aware of the impending lawsuit. Mr. Kamau also allegedly published websites threatening Mr. Slate (and featuring copyrighted ABC materials). There is a warrant for his arrest for contempt of court in Washington D.C.

In September, a private investigator affiliated with Mr. Kamau, Greg Miller, allegedly accosted Mr. Slate at home, shoving Mr. Slate and screaming “Drop that fucking lawsuit against ABC!” before fleeing. Mr. Miller was arrested and given a citation for simple assault, but the charges were later dropped. 

ABC News does not comment on pending litigation. 

Ms. Vargas, who anchored the episode which aired Mr. Slate’s footage, recently filed an affidavit claiming total ignorance of the segment or its means of production. 

Lucky her.  Freelance Producer Decides Not to ‘Drop the Fucking Lawsuit Against ABC’