Federal Judge K. Rodney May threw out the defamation lawsuit by Zenaida Gonzalez against Casey Anthony.


In the defamation lawsuit filed 7 years ago, Gonzalez claimed that Anthony tried to frame her as the babysitter who kidnapped and killed Anthony’s daughter, 2-year-old Caylee.  The judge ruled the lawsuit would not proceed.

In 2008, a video from the Orange County jail recorded Anthony complaining to her parents that the detectives were not doing enough to question “that girl down in Kissimmee”.  Anthony described to detectives, a woman named Zenaida Fernandez-Gonzalez; none of the attributes described, including appearance, age, parents, vehicle, jobs, or friends, matched Zenaida Gonzalez.  The only similarity was the similar name, which Gonzalez herself admitted in a deposition for the lawsuit, but she still alleged that in this one instance Anthony was referring to her.  She proceeded to insert herself in the public eye, making many interview appearances.  She claimed it ruined her reputation and that she could not find work.

Despite this claim, Zenaida Gonzalez had found work at a Circle K.  In 2012, she was fired and arrested for selling alcohol to a minor.  She pled no contest (solo contendere) to a 2nd degree misdemeanor charge of selling/giving/serving alcohol to someone younger than 21.  She faced 2 months in jail plus fines.  Instead, her adjudication was withheld.  She was arrested during a sting operation by the police.  An 18-year-old working as an undercover informant with the police bought Four Loko.  Even though Gonzalez asked for the ID, per store policy, she didn’t actually look at it.  (CBSNews)

In addition to the similar name, the only other fact connecting Gonzalez to the case was that she had once visited the apartment complex where Anthony originally told detectives she dropped her daughter off.  Anthony has always denied that she was talking about Zenaida Gonzalez.  At trial, Anthony’s criminal defense attorneys explained that Caylee Anthony had drowned in the swimming pool and was never kidnapped.  They also went into detail about other fictional people Anthony had invented over the years.  A jury acquitted Anthony of murder in 2011.  Following her acquittal, Anthony was forced to declare bankruptcy due to enormous state fines and defense bills.

Judge May, who discharged Anthony’s debts in 2013, was asked to decide whether Gonzalez was entitled to any money.  Gonzalez alleged “she was the only person identifiable as the girl down in Kissimmee and that when considered with surrounding circumstances, [Anthony’s] statement implicated [Gonzalez]…”

In his 20 page ruling, he ruled that the statements “girl down in Kissimmee” even if joined with “babysitter” in no way implicate Gonzalez, “There is nothing in the statement…to support the allegations that [Anthony] intended to portray [Gonzalez] as a child kidnapper and potentially a child killer.”

He also states that on their face, the statements in the video “appear to harm no one.”  In his ruling, Judge May concludes that Anthony’s “fabricated version of events did not implicate [Gonzalez] in the disappearance of the child.”  The Court also found that the statement “was made only to [Anthony’s] parents”.

“It was not a false statement about [Gonzalez’s] person, character, or conduct.”  In fact, “The statement was not targeted at [Gonzalez].”

“It was a statement…about the Orange County Sheriff’s Office investigators failing to pursue [Anthony’s] story…During the same conversation…[Anthony] gave a description of the babysitter, as a person having a hyphenated last name, and physical features that did not match those of [Gonzalez], whom she did not know.”

He concluded that the statements were not malicious nor made about Gonzalez.  He also ruled on Anthony’s mother’s statements later to the media, which Gonzalez’s attorneys attempted to make Anthony’s responsibility.

“The later public comments by [Anthony’s] mother do not show an intent to injure…and are not linked to any directive by [Anthony]…”

“There is no legal or factual basis to attribute the mother’s statements to [Anthony]…”

He ruled that because there was no defamation, the Gonzalez claims could be discharged with the bankruptcy.  Critics of Anthony state that she escaped on mere “technicalities”, which is obviously untrue given the judge’s detailed lawful and common sense ruling.  It is unclear whether Gonzalez will appeal.

A defamation lawsuit filed by Roy Kronk against Casey Anthony remains open.  Kronk, a former Orange County meter reader, found Caylee Anthony’s remains in 2008.

Sources:  News6Click Orlando  |  News 96.5


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