9News investigative reporter Deborah Sherman's relationship with Children's Hospital ER doc Louis Hampers started on a swinger's website and ended in court, where Sherman won a restraining order against him.
Hampers' increasingly creepy behavior toward Sherman is at the center of a civil lawsuit between the two.
Sherman is suing Hampers for defamation and emotional distress, among other things. In a lawsuit filed on June 28, Sherman alleges that Hampers began threatening and harassing her by e-mail and voicemail after she broke a second date with him in January.
An example of the creepiness can be found in an e-mail from Hampers to Sherman after they agreed that neither would spill the beans about the other being on a swinger's website:
Why don't I just stop e-mailing you? Why am I being such a 'creep' (your term)? Didn't I promise to leave you with peace of mind? What's my goal? Aren't I reneging on our proposition? No, actually, and I might even suggest a way out for you (if you were smart enough to ask respectfully). But in the meantime, let's just say, you messed with the wrong guy.
Sherman also accuses Hampers of contacting 9News and telling lies about her to her supervisor, including that she makes frequent trips to the Denver swinger's club, the Scarlet Ranch, "for promiscuous hetero and bisexual activity."
Furthermore, Sherman accuses Hampers of having his lawyer contact other media outlets in town "for the purpose of damaging her reputation."
On July 19, Hampers responded. In a court document filed by his lawyer, Hampers denies that he threatened Sherman or told her in a voicemail that she'd be facing a "shit storm" if she didn't call him and explain what he thought were calls from 9News to his ex-girlfriend.
He also denies lying about Sherman to her boss. While he admits that his previous lawyer, Harvey Steinberg, contacted investigative reporters at Channel 4, Channel 7 and the Denver Post to "publicize private facts" about Sherman in order to get her fired, he denies that Steinberg contacted Westword.
Hampers's new lawyer, Jeffrey Springer (who works with Steinberg at the aptly-named firm of Springer and Steinberg), argues that several of Sherman's claims won't stand up in court. Among them: the claim that Hampers invaded her privacy.
From Hampers' motion to dismiss:
Somewhat ironically, plaintiff, a television investigative reporter, is claiming... that her privacy was invaded because defendant allegedly disclosed unspecified facts to her employer, KUSA 9News in Denver.
Among the unspecified facts in question, Springer guesses, is that Sherman had filled out a profile on LifestyleLounge.com, an erotic website aimed at swingers. That's where she met Hampers. More from the motion:
Even if the allegedly damaging alleged disclosure was made to plaintiff's employer, plaintiff's employer and, in fact, the public who implicitly trusts plaintiff as an investigative reporter, had a right to know that her own activities and interests run afoul of the implied morality of her position as an investigative reporter.
This is all the more apparent when it was plaintiff who broke the Edward Nottingham story concerning his adult club visits and adult services payments -- very similar and possibly related subject matter as that which plaintiff accuses defendant of allegedly disclosing.
Whew! How many times can a lawyer type "alleged?"
Nottingham, of course, is, the federal judge who was forced to resign in 2008 after his penchant for strippers and prostitutes was made public. Hampers and his lawyers have repeatedly painted Sherman, a brief member of LifestyleLounge.com, as a hypocrite for her reporting on the scandal. In response, Sherman has pointed out that what Nottingham did was potentially illegal. What she did was not.
Last week, Sherman's lawyer, Tom Overton, filed a response to Hampers' motion to dismiss. In it, he quarrels with the assertion that blabbing to the media about the case isn't an invasion or privacy.
From the response:
While Mr. Hampers asserts that the damaging disclosures he made about Ms. (Sherman) were not "public disclosures" it is hard to imagine a more public disclosure than contacting a newspaper which is known for publishing sensational stories about well-known people.
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SHOW ME HOW
That is, of course, a reference to this very publication. Should we be flattered? Hurt?
No matter what, it's clear that this case is far from over. A spokeswoman for the Children's Hospital says Hampers is still on the leave of absence he started in April -- and still earning his $206,000-a-year salary.
Chris Lines, spokesman for the state Department of Regulatory Agencies, says that if a complaint has been made about Hampers -- and he can't say whether one has been -- the Board of Medical Examiners "should be taking it up in the near future."
What does Hampers have to say about all this? Thus far, he's refused to talk to Westword. But we put in a call to his lawyer, Springer, to see if he has any comment. We'll update the story in this space when and if we hear back.