Michael Flatley has won a court ruling that allows him to sue the woman who claimed he raped her in 2002.
The California Supreme Court ruled July 27th that Flatley’s $100 million extortion and defamation lawsuit against Tyna Marie Robertson can go to trial.
Flatley, star of touring Irish dance shows “Riverdance,” “Lord of the Dance” and “Celtic Tiger,” received a letter from Robertson’s attorney in 2003 threatening to file a sexual assault lawsuit unless Flatley agreed to a settlement of “seven figures,” according to court papers.
Police declined to press charges, and Flatley said the sex was consensual.
Robertson then filed a $33 million civil sexual assault lawsuit in Illinois that was later dismissed. Flatley countersued, claiming extortion, fraud and defamation.
Lawyers for Robertson and her attorney, D. Dean Mauro, said Flatley’s lawsuit should be thrown out because the letter was a settlement offer and therefore protected under the First Amendment. The state Supreme Court rejected the argument.
“Mauro’s communications constituted criminal extortion as a matter of law, and, as such, were unprotected by constitutional guarantees of free speech or petition,” the six-member panel wrote.
Flatley’s Los Angeles-based attorney said the decision will help celebrities who are sometimes the target of false allegations.