- "Hollow (Gunderson and Hinkson's attorney) said
that during the aired allegation, Hickson (sic) named an "Art Bell"
without clarifying whether he was Jr. or Sr. He eventually explained that
it was all a basic mix-up, that the child molestation report was of the
younger Bell being a victim, instead of the senior Bell being a perp. There
was also confusion about why the records weren't made public; this is possibly
because the young Bell was a minor and therefore, the records of his kidnapping
and assault were sealed."
- From Thomas Buyea <email@example.com From Sara <firstname.lastname@example.org
- This is a story that seems to be making the rounds on
assorted other mailing lists and BBS so I thought I'd pass it along. Not
having been at the hearing myself, I have no idea of whether this is an
accurate account, but it is interesting.... Sara
- The Art Bell Case Against Ted Gunderson, et. al.
- By Katherine Sullivan © 2000 http://www.newsmakingnews.com/#EYEWITNESS
- The following is an eyewitness report of the Summary
Judgment hearing held today (4/28/00) in Nashville, TN concerning Art Bell
Sr.'s lawsuit against four defendants: two radio stations, Ted Gunderson,
and a Mr. Hickson. You have my permission to pass this on to whomever.
Another person present in the courtroom also took many notes; I hope she
will also share them, and her opinions, with you. I need to clarify that
I went to the hearing with an open mind. I have never listened to an Art
Bell show, nor have I ever talked with or corresponded with the man. For
all I knew, Gunderson's allegations could be based in fact. Keeping this
mentality helped me to stay objective during the hearing.
- Today is April 28th, 2000. The hearing began shortly
after 9 AM and finished around 11 in Judge Shipley's courtroom. The judge
was rather petite with straight, short gray hair. She seemed intelligent
and seasoned but admitted that this kind of case was unique in her courtroom
... she usually handles cases ranging from child abuse to car accidents.
- She announced that several news stations had asked permission
to bring their cameras into the courtroom. She would not allow this; since
the courtroom already had stationary cameras, she said the proceedings
would be videotaped. Tapes of the hearing are available from the court
clerk office for $15 plus approx. $4 S&H and will be available in several
- The following information comes from my handwritten notes.
So much information was presented so quickly, there is no way I could write
down everything that was said. I may have made a mistake or two in interpretation,
although if I wasn't sure about something that was said, I noted it.
- I wasn't able to obtain the correct spelling of names
of the attorneys, nor of the potential witnesses they quoted. I also was
not able to obtain the name of the bulky, gray-bearded, balding man identified
to me as Ted Gunderson's attorney.
- Mr. Fox from Los Angeles verbally represented Art Bell.
Another attorney flanked Bell on his other side and participated in a quieter
manner. Rick Hollow (sp) represented WWCR, which was one of two radio stations
named by Art Bell in his lawsuit. I believe this is the Nashville station
that aired Gunderson's program. Gunderson's attorney sat next to Hollow.
- Rick Hollow began. His first obvious intent was to convince
the judge that Art Bell is a public figure.
- Hollow said that his legal group asked Bell to tell them
every time he had been on radio, TV, in newspapers, etc. for the last ten
years. He said Bell balked at this request and stated he couldn't be expected
to remember all that.
- Hollow said that Bell claimed he was syndicated on 480
radio stations with 9 million listeners.
- Hollow said that Bell's attorney (Fox? not sure) recently
appeared on Good Morning America and on the Art Bell show, speaking about
the recent legal activities.
- Hollow said that when a person is a public figure, this
"leads to scrutiny of character" on a greater scale than if the
person was not a public figure.
- He gave excerpts from Bell's website, especially articles
that mention issues Bell has addressed on his program, showing that he
focused on more than just the nighttime "insomniac niche" who
enjoy hearing about "UFO's, ghosts, vampire monkeys" etc.
- He said that Art Bell is ranked fourth after Dr. Laura,
Howard Stern, and Rush Limbaugh.
- He attacked Bell's claim that after 12/97 (when Gunderson's
show aired with allegations against Bell), his audience "shrunk."
- Fox said that Bell is a "person of notoriety".
He tried to explain the legal difference between a "general, all-purpose
public figure" versus a "limited purpose public figure."
He said that the "general, all -purpose" terminology is reserved
for presidents, senators, and the like, who address many issues of public
- He said that "limited public figure" applies
to rock stars, athletes and the like, who have status in the public eye
basically because of one issue or talent.
- Fox said there is a "quantum leap" between
Dr. Laura, Howard Stern, Rush Limbaugh and Art Bell.
- The judge mentioned that there is no need for a person
to be known nationwide to be a public figure. She asked how the program
was set up and where it was aired.
- One of the attorneys said that Hickson (sp), who made
the allegations against Bell on the Gunderson Intelligence Report radio
show on 12/9/97, was speaking by phone in Idaho. Gunderson was physically
located "in the desert" near Las Vegas, and the program aired
- The judge asked how many people in the Nashville area
know Art Bell as a person, not as a personality?
- There was discussion on this.
- Fox told the judge that unlike Dr. Laura, Art Bell doesn't
talk about his family, and until recently, chose not to talk about it.
- The judge asked Hollow's opinion concerning "limited
purpose public figure" status possibly applying to Bell.
- Hollow quoted more figures showing Bell's popularity,
number of listeners, etc. He mentioned that Bell's website showed over
58 million hits.
- Hollow stated that allegations "go to the core of
a person's character" if true, and therefore are important.
- The judge stated that Bell is, for all purposes, a public
- Fox changed the subject and mentioned a dated Tennessee
statute that said when a broadcast is liable for defamatory statements
as a "lack of due care", when alleged by the plaintiff in a lawsuit,
the burden of proof is on the defendant.
- Hollow quoted from a later case, mentioning that it had
changed the previous ruling somewhat.
- He then stated that "constitutional malice"
is when an allegation is "known to be false" or is made "in
reckless regard." He talked about "subjective awareness of probable
- One of the attorneys said that Gunderson claimed that
Hixson, who made the allegations, was a "reliable and trustworthy
- Hollow said that David Hickson had developed a product
called "Water Oz (sp)." Hollow speculated about why allegations
were made by a former female business partner who later claimed that Hickson
bragged about how he was going to ruin Bell. Hickson allegedly said this
during the time he made the public allegations against Bell. Hollow tried
to convince the judge that the female partner may not have been trustworthy
in her claims because she was upset with Hickson about his not giving her
money and services he had promised her as part of their business arrangement.
- Hollow said that during the aired allegation, Hickson
named an "Art Bell" without clarifying whether he was Jr. or
Sr. He eventually explained that it was all a basic mix-up, that the child
molestation report was of younger Bell being a victim, instead of senior
Bell being a perp. There was also confusion about why the records weren't
made public; this is possibly because the young Bell was a minor and therefore,
the records of his kidnapping and assault were sealed.
- Hollow said that Mr. McClintock (sp), who I believe owned
or was general manager of the Nashville station, stated that he'd heard
"rumors" about Art Bell. Hollow said that Hickson had been on
the air before as McClintock's guest.
- Hollow said that Hickson had had a previous "relationship"
with the station from June 1995 through September 1995, during which time
he'd made "statements critical of Bell."
- He denied that there was a conspiracy linking Hickson,
Gunderson and McClintock against Art Bell.
- He said that Gunderson's show had been a "remotely
broadcast program." He said there was an uplink via satellite. He
said there is no liability to the distributor, unless the distributor KNEW
statements were defamatory. He said, paraphrased, that the station's stance
was that the incidence had consisted of "120 seconds of exchange in
live broadcast, no script, extemporaneous, the claims were not made by
an employee, nor a guest." He complained that the personnel at the
radio station shouldn't have to act as "gatekeeper" or "censor."
- The judge reminded Hollow that "McClintock had the
ability to cut it off."
- Hollow admitted that such a physical switch did exist.
- He again insisted that the action was "not defamatory."
He said this is a matter of "constitutional law." He said "an
investigation was carried out, and it was determined [the allegations]
were untrue." He said the investigation was done after Art Bell's
attorney contacted the station.
- Hollow claimed that Gunderson had been in control entirely,
during that program.
- Gunderson's attorney spoke next. He said that there was
one thing that nobody in the courtroom seemed to be willing to say, so
he would: there is "no proof that Art Bell isn't a child molester."
- Gunderson's attorney said that people like Bell shouldn't
be accused of things on the air due to their being so well-known. He said,
"As soon as [Bell's] name was mentioned [on air], we should have done
- He submitted a "letter," unread, from Sue Ford
(aka Brice Taylor) to the judge.
- He showed Judge Shipley a printout of the Internet website
"data dump" on Gunderson, about his allegations, Bell's lawsuit,
- He mentioned a claim being made on the Internet by someone
I believe he called "Graywolf", saying that Gunderson is a pedophile.
- He didn't clarify why he said and showed these articles
to the judge.
- Fox spoke again. He emphasized that Bell wants a jury
- He said that Hickson had a show of his own on the radio
station. He said that Gunderson had been a guest on Hickson's show three
times, and that Hickson had been a guest on Gunderson's show. (Hollow had
previously tried to convince the judge that Gunderson and Hickson hadn't
known each other well enough to conspire against Bell.)
- Fox said that David Hickson had sent his water product
to Art Bell for potential endorsement. That didn't develop. He said that
Gunderson had claimed -- I believe on air the night of Hickson's allegations
-- that Gunderson had tried to contact Art Bell to be on his show, but
said that Art Bell had turned him down. Fox said that Art had not been
contacted by Gunderson by phone as he had claimed.
- Fox read from what seemed to be a transcript of the show,
that indicated that Gunderson seemed to be encouraging Hickson to defame
- One of the attorneys quoted Gunderson as saying, "I
don't say anything on air unless it's proven fact."
- Fox said that the program director and general manager
work at the station full time. He said McClintock was present when the
broadcast was aired, and a board operator was also there. And yet no one
flipped the switch to interrupt the airing of Hickson's allegations.
- He mentioned that Gunderson, a former FBI agent and investigator,
was well trained in being careful about what to say and when.
- Fox said that the station is saying, "You can get
so reckless that you're exempt from being reckless."
- Hollow said that Fox was asking the station to "apply
negligence standard to an actual malice case."
- After a short recess, the judge reentered the courtroom
and voiced her decisions.
- 1) Her first decision was about whether or not Art Bell
is a public figure. She said he is, "for all purposes." She said
her decision is a matter of law, not just for the summary judgment level.
She said that this decision "raises the bar that [Bell] must show
the defamation was false."
- 2) Her second decision is that malice existed. She said
that this is only "for the summary judgment level."
- 3) She addressed the question of whether McClintock was
knowledgeable of the information alleged by Hickson and whether management
showed reckless disregard. She said she would not make any finding on this
at this time. Too much yet to be argued, proven, etc. for this hearing.
- She and the attorneys agreed to have a telephone conference
on May 25th in the morning. Hollow volunteered to initiate the conference.
At that time they will set a trial date to "control the amount of
discovery that needs to be done."
- Outside the courtroom, several people told me that the
trial would be held in California.
- The most personally shocking statement made during the
hearing was from Gunderson's attorney. As previously reported, he stated
that -- even though Hollow had already admitted that his legal team had
investigated and found Hickson's allegations about Bell to be false --
"There's no proof that Art Bell isn't a child molester." What
I got from his words is this: "As a citizen, I don't have to give
any evidence that any person is a pedophile, to suggest that he/she is.
I can slander him or her as long as I want, wherever I want, as often as
I want. After all, I'm covered: the remotest chance that I could be guessing
correctly is proof enough." I'm glad most people aren't like that
- report by Katherine Sullivan © 2000
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