A defense attorney methodically picked apart allegations by the ex-girlfriend of 96 K-Rock shock jock Joe Scott, mocking her claims in a five-hour, two-day cross-examination that brought her to tears Friday, prompting the judge to call a break.
But it wasn’t defense attorney Kelley Geraghty Price’s relentless cross-examination that prompted the emotional breakdown. Scott’s former live-in girlfriend, Patti Davis, 50, burst into tears when the Bonita Springs attorney played a broadcast of Scott professing his love for her.
“It’s too bad,” Scott said during a May 2005 broadcast. “I loved her more than anything in the world. ... She’s a little messed up right now. ... She’s the sweetest, nicest thing in the world and I’ve never loved anyone in the world like her.”
Tears welled in Davis’ eyes, she put her head down and covered her face, sobbing. Lee Circuit Judge Christine Greider let the five-woman, one-man jury take a break so Davis could compose herself.
Until then, Davis, a real estate agent who has since returned to her radio sales career, was polite and composed and cried only a few times. The breakdown came at the end of Price’s cross-examination, shortly before Davis’ lawyer, William DeForest Thompson Jr. of Fort Myers, rested his case after brief questions to undue any damage Price may have caused in jurors’ eyes.
After jurors were excused, Price sought a directed verdict in the defense’s favor, arguing to dismiss the two-count 2005 lawsuit alleging invasion of privacy and negligent hiring and retention of Scott by Naples-based Beasley Broadcast Group Inc., Beasley FM Acquisition Group and Beasley Broadcasting of Southwest Florida Inc.
Davis’ lawsuit alleged she endured daily diatribes in May 2005 by Scott, who cursed her, called her a prostitute, thief, slut and names that harmed her real estate career and caused stress, a rash and facial swelling. She alleged she had to see a psychiatrist twice and had to take antidepressants.
Davis, who had a daughter with Scott, resumed her 20-year relationship with him in January 2005 after leaving in 1990. In March 2005, she testified, the Estero radio station’s general manager, Brad Beasley, called her to express concern Scott was using drugs and alcohol again.
She alleged K-Rock refused to stop his on-air rants after she repeatedly complained, and alerted them he was still abusing drugs and not ready to return to the air after nearly three weeks at The Willough in Naples rehab center.
K-Rock employee Mickey English took him there on April 2, 2005, after he didn’t show up for work for three days and was found surrounded by cocaine, alcohol and sleep aids in his Cape Coral home.
He’d been fired five times by K-Rock during his 15-year career and terminated in March 2006 for not showing up for work and refusing urine tests. The controversial 46-year-old DJ died of substance-abuse complications that November.
Testimony shows he relentlessly bad-mouthed Davis on-air and often played voice-overs of her out of context to mock her. The tirades increased, she said, because he was angry she told his bosses they yanked him out of rehab too soon to replace the popular Howard Stern Show, which ended in March 2005.
She alleges K-Rock was interested only in profits and didn’t monitor his condition, but Price contends he was protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
On Friday, as Price continued cross-examining Davis into a fifth hour after two hours of direct questioning Thursday, Price asked what illnesses she’s suffering now due to the broadcasts, noting she said in her 2007 deposition she wasn’t presently affected.
Davis replied that she suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and problems as a domestic violence survivor due to Scott’s abuse. Price pointed out she isn’t seeing a psychiatrist and suggested she never had, demanding proof.
Davis said she had two $150 sessions, but couldn’t afford to continue. Price also maintained that what Scott did in his private life, including domestic violence, wasn’t the Beasleys’ fault.
“If they had let Joe stay in rehab, he would have gotten the help he needed,” she said. “But they were more concerned about their ratings, profits — and not his health or personal life.”
Price reminded her tapes of broadcasts she played showed Scott never mentioned her again after her call and even told listeners K-Rock General Manager Brad Beasley warned him not to.
“It didn’t stop,” Davis said, sobbing. “I know it finally slowed down a little, when Mr. Thompson sent a letter saying to cease and desist.”
“Show us where that is,” Price angrily demanded, asking to hear those broadcasts.
“My attorney has the tapes,” Davis replied.
However, Price had successfully argued earlier this week to prevent Thompson from playing most of the 80 hours of the May 2005 broadcasts, contending he can’t prove their authenticity, although the station provided them.
During redirect questioning, Thompson showed Scott’s tirades increased after Davis called Beasley, asking him to stop, faxed a letter and Thompson sent a cease-and-desist letter, threatening a lawsuit.
Later, arguing to dismiss, Price maintained Scott stopped talking about Davis by name after she called and that Beasley took her call and letter seriously.
“There may have been innuendos or indirect references,” Price said of Scott mentioning Davis on-air afterward.
Price argued Thompson hadn’t proven Davis suffered any harm and that Scott had obeyed orders.
But Thompson contended Davis was mentioned by Scott “every week, every day, every hour” in May, when he bad-mouthed her, calling her a slut, prostitute, thief and burglar. He noted Scott told listeners she was sleeping around, being “nailed” by his all his friends.
“She was infected, she had STDs, she was spreading the clap,” Thompson said, repeating Scott’s broadcast.
The judge, who will research the case law provided by attorneys, held off making a decision until Tuesday, when Price begins the defense’s case. Closing arguments are expected that day.