Texas Psychic Ordered To Pay $7 Million For False “Mass Grave” Claims
This is an update on a story I wrote about previously, Fraudulent Psychic Sued For False “Visions” Of Texas Massacre
The owners of the ranch in Texas that was raided by police for supposedly being the site of a large massacring ground and having mass gravesites filled with children’s bodies took the psychic to court after it became obvious there was no such thing and won a $6.8 million judgment.
Although the psychic was either lying or was just plain wrong, authorities stated that they do not regret following up on the tip because no matter where information like that comes from, it is their job to investigate it to make sure.
Joe Bankson and Gena Charlton, the ranch owners, however do regret that this embarrassment had to happen to them and 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.”
Originally, the Texas couple planned to sue 7 other individuals, including the police and six major media corporations but claims against these others were eventually dropped, leaving only Gridley. The reason they wanted to sue the police at first was because of the fact that they chose to speak to the media about Gridley’s claims that helped to sensationalize her false allegations. They said, “Over the course of the day, media defendants began to exaggerate and eventually made up facts about Plaintiffs, including that a mass grave existed on the property, including the bodies of children.”
It was discovered by District Court Judge Carl Ginsberg that Gridley dragged Bankston and Charlton’s names in the dirt by making up defamatory statements about them and lying about the massacre to the sheriff’s office in Liberty County. Judge Ginsberg agreed that the false claims made by Gridley hurt Bankston and Charlton’s reputation, and exposed them to financial loss, ridicule, and public hatred. The couple also added that the police completely trashed their house during the raid, and that due to Gridley’s false claims, they lost several friends.
It is not surprising that a psychic gave false information to the police, it happens all too often, especially during high-profile missing persons cases where police are flooded with hundreds of tips from so-called psychics. There have been cases where psychics were believed to have aided in the discovery of a missing person but more often than not, they do not offer valid information.
There have been times when information given to authorities by psychics causes a great deal of distress to the general public as well. For example, back in 2004 there was a psychic who advised the TSA of a bomb that was on an American Airlines flight on its way to Dallas, Texas. The TSA took the information seriously and working with the police they searched the airplane thoroughly, even enlisting the help of bomb sniffing dogs and equipment designed to find bombs but never found anything. The flight however was still cancelled causing a high inconvenience to the passengers, not to mention how frightening it was for them.
The case of the Texas ranch reminds us of the issues when it comes to providing accurate information to the authorities in a responsible way. It is a crime in itself to make a false report, but usually unless the claims turn out to be blatantly false, or if the information was a costly one to investigate, people will not be prosecuted for it. One of the reasons for this is the fact that the police don’t want people to be afraid to call in a tip that has the potential of being helpful just because they are not positive about what they are reporting. It is a delicate balance because the police prefer to not charge someone who honestly felt something was wrong and called it in, but they also do not want to have their time, money, and personnel wasted on hoaxes and false information.
It is uncommon for a psychic to be found guilty and be charged in court but hopefully now that it has happened it will set an example for other psychics (and people) who like making claims that cannot be backed up and only serve to humiliate people and cost the authorities money and resources.