SEATTLE — True-crime author Ann Rule is suing a weekly Seattle newspaper, claiming she was defamed by a 2011 article written by the fiance of a convicted killer.
The lawsuit, filed last week in King County Superior Court, says the article hurt Rule’s reputation and book sales.
The article, titled “Ann Rule’s Sloppy Storytelling,” was favorable to Liysa Northon, an Oregon woman who served 12 years in prison after killing her husband in 2000. She claimed the killing was in self-defense and that she was a battered spouse, but Rule’s 2003 book about the case painted her as a liar who plotted the killing in a way to make it appear she had been abused.
When the Seattle Weekly published the story, editors didn’t know that its freelance author, Rick Swart, was engaged to Northon. The paper later issued an editor’s note detailing that omission, as well as numerous errors in the piece.
The paper’s current editor did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
Sound Publishing, which owns the Seattle Weekly, also owns The Herald. However, “(t)he article in question was published prior to our ownership” said Gloria Fletcher, president of Sound Publishing Inc. “At the time the Seattle Weekly was owned by New Times Media. Sound Publishing has not been served with any complaint.”