Melania Trump has reached a settlement with a blogger who suggested that she might have worked as an escort before becoming First Lady, according to a statement on behalf of Trump’s lawyer, Charles Harder.
“The First Lady of the United States has settled her lawsuit against Webster Griffin Tarpley of Maryland,” said the statement, issued Tuesday. “Mr. Tarpley has issued the attached retraction and apology to Mrs. Trump and her family, and agreed to pay her a substantial sum as a settlement.”
In his statement, Tarpley said his story, published last year, was “replete with false and defamatory statements” about Melania Trump.
The settlement comes less than two weeks after Montgomery County Circuit Judge Sharon Burrell shot down arguments by Tarpley’s legal team that the suit should be dismissed.
Team Tarpley had argued that the suit failed to meet the standard for “actual malice” with regard to public figures.
The judge also rejected an argument by Tarpley’s lawyers that Trump’s suit runs afoul of Maryland’s SLAPP law, which aims to prevent lawsuits brought to intimidate others from speaking out on public matters.
“The court finds the plaintiff has stated a claim for defamation,” Burrell said. “The court believes most people, when they hear the words ‘high-end escort’ that describes a prostitute. There could be no more defamatory statement than to call a woman a prostitute.”
Trump sued Tarpley and the Daily Mail in September, claiming that a story saying that Trump worked for a modeling agency where the models also worked as escorts inaccurately painted her as a sex worker.
“Plaintiff did legitimate and legal modeling work for legitimate business entities and did not work for any ‘gentleman’s club’ or ‘escort’ agencies,'” Trump’s lawsuit read. “Plaintiff was not a sex worker, escort or prostitute in any way, shape or form.”
While Trump’s legal entanglement with Tarpley is now a thing of the past, her beef with the Daily Mail continues.
According to The Hill, Trump refiled her suit against the Daily Mail in New York on Monday, after a judge dismissed the Maryland suit on jurisdictional grounds.