SYDNEY, Australia, September 19. MORE than a year-and-a-half after a New South Wales Supreme Court jury ruled in his favor in a defamation lawsuit against Australia’s Channel Nine, Greg Hodge finally received a ruling on damages due to him.
The former Australian National High Performance Director was awarded more than $320,000 in a lawsuit against Channel Nine’s A Current Affair for an extremely defamatory segment broadcasted by the network in October 2003.
These accusations forced Hodge out of the country, where he took a head coaching position with the United Arab Emirates in 2004. He has remained there ever since.
According to earlier SwimmingWorldMagazine.com reports on the February 2004 decision, the jury agreed with Hodge's accusation that the show falsely portrayed him as a pervert who was not fit to train Olympic swimmers. The broadcast was based on allegations by a former swimmer, Emma Fuller. Fuller claimed that Hodge was "obsessed" with her and had stalked her. This obsession, she alleged, dated back to when she was 12 and living with the Hodge family.
Tom Hughes, Hodge's attorney, told the jury that the program defamed his client in nine different ways, wrongly portraying him as an "obsessive, mentally sick, sexual pervert" who harassed and abused Fuller. He said the program defamed Hodge "with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer breaking a plate glass window".
Channel Nine's counsel, Guy Reynolds, disagreed, arguing that the imputations were "cunningly crafted," and "ramped up." He maintained that the program was not based on any sexual behavior on Hodge's part, but on a series of innocuous acts that made Fuller uncomfortable "because she was dealing with a man who was infatuated with her".
The jury of two men and two women weren't buying it. It took a mere 30 minutes to find that the program had defamed Hodge in three of the nine ways alleged.
In the end, the judge ordered the network to pay Hodge $321,337 in damages, plus interest to be calculated.
Stephen J. Thomas contributed to this report.
To see previous SwimmingWorldMagazine.com reports on this issue as well as an exclusive interview with Hodge, please click on the links below.
Jury Finds for Coach Hodge: Aussie T.V. Network Defamed Him
Former Aussie Head Coach Sues T.V. Network for Defamation, Gives SWM.com Exclusive Interview
Aussie Head Coach, Greg Hodge, Steps Down
Accuser Withdraws AVO (Restraining Order) Against Top Aussie Coach
Aussie Swimming Rocked By New Sex Charge