Monday, January 07, 2008

Clemens Files Suit Against Ex-Trainer


Roger Clemens filed a defamation lawsuit against his former trainer saying Brian McNamee falsely accused him of using performance-enhancing drugs only after he was "threatened with criminal prosecution if he did not implicate Clemens" to federal investigators.
But an attorney for McNamee said Monday that his client was not pressured by federal investigators to name Clemens but that McNamee told Clemens’s people that he was pressured.
"He lied to them and tried to say, ’Well, they pressured me,’ because he wanted to continue to stay in the good graces of Roger," the attorney Earl Ward said in a telephone interview.
Ward was present during the day of questioning by federal investigators in June, which was described in a lawsuit Clemens filed Sunday. Ward said McNamee will also say, under oath, he was not pressured.
On Friday, Clemens and McNamee were invited to appear before a Congressional committee and testify under oath about the incidents detailed in former Senator George J. Mitchell’s report on performance-enhancing drugs in Major League Baseball.
Ward said the questioning by a federal investigator and assistant United States attorney was polite, nothing was thrown, and no threats were made. His account contradicted a statement McNamee had made to investigators for Clemens, which was quoted in the Clemens lawsuit.
"That’s far from what happened, far from what happened," Ward said in a phone interview. "It’s just Brian trying to stay in Roger’s good graces. He’s just blowing smoke."
Clemens’s defamation suit was filed Sunday in Harris County, Tex., the same day an interview with Clemens aired on the CBS program “60 Minutes” in which Clemens denied ever using steroids or human growth hormone. The suit alleges that McNamee was pressured by federal prosecutors to provide information to Mitchell’s investigators after he initially said Clemens had never used banned substances. The suit lists 15 statements McNamee made to Mitchell that the suit contends are “untrue and defamatory.”
"They injured Clemens’ reputation and exposed him to public hatred, contempt, ridicule and financial injury," the suit says of McNamee’s allegations. "McNamee made the allegations with actual malice, knowing they were false."
"The Mitchell Commission republished McNamee’s allegations," it says. "At the time he made the false accusations to the Mitchell Commission, McNamee did not recognize, and a reasonable person in McNamee’s position should have recognized, that they would be communicated to other persons."
Richard D. Emery, a lawyer working for McNamee who specializes in defamation cases, said the Clemens complaint "reads like a press release."
Emery also said Clemens’s suit shows Clemens was not truthful on "60 Minutes" because he had hired an attorney and his investigators had interviewed McNamee before the Mitchell report was released.
During the interview with Mike Wallace, Clemens said he did not know ahead of time what was going to be in the Mitchell report.
"Did Brian McNamee tell you what he was going to say to-", Wallace started.
"Didn’t tell me a word," Clemens interrupted.
In a phone interview Monday, Emery said he will move to bring the suit to federal court or a New York state court, instead of a Texas court.
It is the latest maneuver in the battle that has erupted between Clemens and McNamee’s lawyers since it was first revealed last month in the Mitchell report that McNamee injected Clemens on numerous occasions.
McNamee’s lawyers had threatened to sue Clemens if he and his lawyers continued to say that McNamee was lying about Clemens’s use of performance-enhancing drugs.
The suit says that McNamee initially told federal prosecutors that Clemens never used performance-enhancing drugs. But after he was pressured by I.R.S. special agent Jeff Novitzky and assistant United States attorney Matt Parrella, he said he had injected Clemens with steroids and human growth hormone in 1998, 2000 and 2001. The proffer agreement between McNamee and prosecutors said anything McNamee said in interviews with the agent would not be used against him in criminal proceedings.
McNamee’s lawyer said his client named Clemens as an illegal drug user in his first day of questioning by federal investigators.
"I wasn’t there the first day but Roger’s name came up," Ward said. "The second day, they had a discussion with him and they said, ’Look, we like what you said, but you’ve got to give us everything.’ There were no angry words. It was spoken in a perfectly normal manner.”
The suit alleges that after his interrogation, McNamee told others he was again approached by federal authorities and asked to talk to Mitchell’s investigators.
“McNamee has contended that when he initially refused to do so, he was told by the federal government that he would be moved from his ‘witness’ status back to ‘target status’ and fully prosecuted,” the suit says. “McNamee has stated that when faced again with the threat of federal prosecution, he agreed to speak with Mitchell.”
McNamee’s lawyer said:” They gave him a speech and said you’ve got to be honest.”
Ward also said the timing of the interview with McNamee by investigators for Clemens’s lawyer proved Clemens did not tell the truth on "60 Minutes" when he said he did not know what was going to be in the Mitchell report. "That’s an outright lie," Ward said.
He said the Clemens’s investigators talked to McNamee about two days before the release of the Mitchell report. The investigators worked for Rusty Hardin, Clemens’s attorney, who was also representing Andy Pettitte at that time.
Ward said the investigators told McNamee their conversation was not being taped, but the lawsuit shows it was taped. Ward said McNamee was consistent in everything else he said, other than being pressured.

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