This story updates one I wrote about previously, Fraudulent Psychic Sued For False “Visions” Of Texas Massacre.
The owners of the Texas ranch accused of having mass graves by a psychic took her to court. Police raided their property when they received information about it being the site of a massacre containing children’s bodies.
After the search, it became apparent it was all a lie. The couple received a $6.8 million judgment in court. Even though the psychic was lying or just plain mistaken, authorities stated they don’t regret following up on the tip.
They noted that no matter where tips come from, it’s their job to look into them to ensure they’re false. However, the ranch owners, Joe Bankson and Gena Charlton, do regret this embarrassment. That’s why they decided to sue the psychic.
The Houston Chronicle reported: “A self-described psychic who triggered a media frenzy when she told authorities a Liberty County couple had a mass grave on their property has been ordered to pay the couple $6.8 million.
A Dallas County judge issued the judgment May 7 against Presley “Rhonda” Gridley, the sole remaining defendant in a lawsuit filed a year ago.”
Initially, the Texas couple planned to sue seven other individuals. These included the police and six major media corporations. However, they eventually dropped the claims against these others, leaving only Gridley. They wanted to sue the police at first because they chose to speak to the media about Gridley’s claims.
The Psychic’s Claims Caused A Tremendous Amount Of Trouble
This action helped sensationalize the psychic’s false allegations. They said, “Over the course of the day, media defendants began to exaggerate and eventually made up facts about Plaintiffs. These included that a mass grave existed on the property containing the bodies of children.”
District Court Judge Carl Ginsberg discovered that Gridley dragged Bankston and Charlton’s names in the dirt by creating defamatory statements lying about the massacre. Judge Ginsberg agreed with the ranch owners, and she acknowledged that the false claims hurt their reputation.
It also exposed them to financial loss, ridicule, and public hatred. The couple added that not only did the police completely trash their house during the raid, but the false accusations also cost them several friends.
Unfortunately, it’s not rare for a psychic to give false information to the police. It happens all too often, especially during high-profile missing person cases. In these instances, self-proclaimed psychics flood the police with hundreds of tips.
On the other hand, there have been many cases where psychics have aided in discovering a missing person. However, not everyone who calls themselves a psychic has valid information.
Choosing Who To Listen To Is A Fine Line
There have been times when the information given to authorities by psychics caused distress to the general public. For example, in 2004, a psychic told TSA there was a bomb on an American Airlines flight to Dallas, Texas.
TSA took the information seriously and, working with the police, they scoured the airplane. They even enlisted the help of bomb-sniffing dogs and equipment designed to find bombs but never found anything.
However, the flight was still canceled, causing a high inconvenience to the passengers. That pales in comparison to how frightening the whole ordeal was for them though.
The case of the Texas ranch highlights the issues that arise when providing accurate information to the authorities. Making a false report is a crime, but police don’t usually prosecute people for it. That is unless the claims turn out to be blatantly false or the information was expensive to investigate.
One of the reasons for this is that police don’t want people to be afraid to call in a tip. All tips can be potentially helpful but if they thought they’d get in trouble for not being sure, people may stop calling.
It’s a delicate balance because the police prefer not to charge someone who honestly felt something was wrong and called it in, but they also don’t want their time, money, and personnel wasted on hoaxes and false information.
It’s uncommon for a psychic to be found guilty and charged in court. Still, hopefully, now that it’s happened, it will set an example for other psychics (and people) who like making claims that can’t be backed. Especially if they only served to humiliate people and cost the authorities money and resources.