SBI agent drops lawsuit

News & Observer had been target

ablythe@newsobserver.comDecember 3, 2011 

A State Bureau of Investigation agent dropped her lawsuit against The News & Observer, almost three months after accusing the publishing company of making "false, despicable and defamatory statements" about her in its award-winning investigative series, "Agents' Secrets."

Beth Desmond, an SBI agent since February 2002, gave notice this week that she planned to withdraw her suit. She asked to do so without prejudice, meaning she could raise the claims again within the next year.

Desmond, a firearms examiner for the SBI, accused N&O Executive Editor John Drescher, staff writers Mandy Locke and Joseph Neff, Senior Editor of Investigations Steve Riley and others of intentionally misrepresenting her work.

Drescher disputed the agent's claims and described the August 2010 series chronicling problems with the SBI and its crime labs as public-service journalism.

"I'm glad Agent Desmond has dropped the suit," he said on Friday. "Our series was accurate and fair."

The notice, filed in Wake County Superior Court on Thursday by Kieran J. Shanahan, Brandon S. Neuman and John E. Branch, the Raleigh attorneys representing Desmond, does not elaborate on reasons for seeking the dismissal.

In an email, Shanahan said Friday that Desmond stands by the allegations in her complaint.

Blythe: 919-836-4948

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