Tuesday, November 29, 2022

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Social media post prompts Graham developer to sue for defamation and libel

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A Graham businessman and real estate developer has filed a lawsuit against a Burlington woman for allegedly posting a message on Facebook that he claims amounts to defamation and libel.

In his suit, Jason Cox alleges that Theresa Draughn, whose address is listed in the court file as 322 Caswell Street, Burlington, posted a message on Facebook which stated, “Jason Cox is a complete [expletive deleted]. He has sexually harassed his workers.”

Cox is a businessman and real estate developer based in Graham who owns the Cooperative of North Carolina at 200 North Main Street, as well as several other companies.

In his suit, Cox contends that Draughn’s statements are false. Rather, Cox asserts that that he “has never sexually harassed any of his workers, has never been accused of sexually harassing his employees, and has never been charged with any crime regarding sexual harassment.” Nor has he ever met Draughn, according to the lawsuit that Cox has filed in Alamance County civil superior court.

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Cox is seeking more than $25,000 in damages against Draughn under multiple alleged claims, including defamation and libel, which he contends were malicious and had the potential to reach multiple people other than himself. Draughn either knew the statements were false or failed to determine whether they were false before posting her message on Facebook, the complaint states.

Cox is also asking a judge to grant a temporary restraining order, as well as a preliminary and permanent injunction, to prevent Draughn from posting other libelous and/or slanderous messages about him on Facebook in the future.

Cox is seeking more than $25,000 as damages against Draughn for defamation of character; an unspecified amount in punitive damages; and an award for his attorney’s fees and costs for filing the action. He is being represented by Burlington attorney Geoffrey K. Oertel.
Draughn had not filed a response by press time.

In an unrelated incident, Draughn had been previously arrested in April 2021 for allegedly failing to disperse during a racial justice protest in Court Square, according to the Graham police department.

That charge had stemmed from a spontaneous demonstration in downtown Graham that followed the fatal shooting of a black man, Andrew Brown, Jr., in Elizabeth City on April 21, 2021, a Graham police department spokesman said at the time.

However, the charge related to Draughn’s arrest on April 27, 2021 appears to have been dropped, as Alamance County court files no longer contain any record of the case.

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