Ashley Olsen is suing The National Enquirer over a story alleging that she was caught in a drug scandal.
The defamation suit was filed on Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court against the tabloid and its parent companies, American Media Inc. and National Enquirer Inc., for libel and false-light invasion of privacy.
Each cause of action seeks $20 million in compensatory damages for "damage to the plaintiff's reputation, career and standing in the community," according to the suit.
The suit refers to the February 21, 2005 issue of the paper, in which Olsen is featured on the cover, eyes half-shut, in a photo "clearly designed to create the misimpression that she was drugged." Emblazoned across the cover is the headline "Ashley Olsen Caught in Drug Scandal."
"Freedom of the press is a valuable right," the suit says, "but it is not a license for gossipy tabloids to tar and feather innocent celebrities and destroy their reputations and businesses for the rags' profit."
The accusations against Olsen in the tabloid could be damaging to her image and career, according to the suit, because her "career and livelihood depend on her public reputation and, in part, on her appeal to younger girls."
The suit said that the photos and headlines for the story in the Enquirer were intended to give the impression that Olsen was at the center of a drug scandal, but that the article itself has "no information linking Ashley to the use or sale of drugs."
In fact, the article focuses on Scott Sartiano, whom the article says Olsen has been dating, claiming that Sartiano has admitted to using drugs. The article also cites a 1997 dispute between Sartiano and a man named Christian Curry that allegedly resulted in a conviction against Curry for assaulting Sartiano. According to the story, during "some type of civil or criminal proceeding, witnesses testified that Mr. Sartiano had offered them ecstasy, cocaine and money" as bribes to testify against Curry.
Because of the nature of the headlines and photographs, the suit says, "even a reader who reads the entire article could easily be left with the misimpression that Ashley Olsen uses and/or sells illegal drugs or is involved in the use or sale of illegal drugs."
According to the suit, a letter was sent to the chairman, president and CEO of the parent companies on Monday demanding a retraction, but that by the time the suit was filed, no retraction was made.
The National Enquirer could not be reached for comment by press time.