A law professor from the University of Minnesota received his state’s largest ever award resulting from a defamation lawsuit this week after half a decade of fighting for his reputation in court.
In 2015, Morgan Wright accused Professor Francesco Parisi of stalking and raping her shortly after a court ruled against her in a property dispute between herself and the professor. After prosecutors found no evidence that the professor ever assaulted Wright, all charges were dropped, per the Star Tribune. However, before he was declared innocent, Professor Parisi was held in Hennepin County Jail for three weeks which prevented him from being by his mother’s side as she died per Fox News.
In addition to being apart from his mother during her final days, Parisi’s reputation and career suffered as a result of Wright’s allegations. Even after the court determined that the professor was innocent, enrollment in his classes fell 60% as many of his students, especially the female ones, decided to believe that he was guilty anyway.
“Even after those charges were dropped, people Google my name and only see a professor accused of so many crimes,” Parisi explains, per Fox, adding that the image of his mug shot and old coverage of his case are still readily available online.
After reviewing the tremendous damage Parisi has suffered as a result of Wright’s false accusation, a court decided this week to award him $800,000 compensation for economic losses, along with $325,000 to cover emotional, punitive and reputational damages.
“Wright enjoyed the benefit of doubt for years of weaponizing the court system to harass Professor Parisi, and those days are finally over,” remarked Parsi’s legal council after Judge Daniel Moreno handed down the decision, per the Tribune.
Even though Judge Moreno assessed that Parsi’s accuser illegally filed a false police report, city and county officials have not charged her with a crime.
Wright has declined to comment on whether or not she will appeal the court’s decision, per the Tribune.
Just because Parisi won a record breaking sum doesn’t mean he will likely see that money any time soon unless Wright actually has $1.2 million. In some cases, a secondary legal battle ensues as parties wrangle over how sums of this size are to be paid.