THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT Copyright (c) 1994, Landmark Communications, Inc. DATE: Saturday, October 29, 1994 TAG: 9410290206 SECTION: FRONT PAGE: A13 EDITION: FINAL SOURCE: BY MARC DAVIS, STAFF WRITER DATELINE: NORFOLK LENGTH: Medium: 54 lines
Oliver L. North's campaign has agreed in writing not to rerun a TV ad portraying a Virginia Beach real estate agent as a cocaine dealer who partied with Sen. Charles S. Robb, whose seat North is seeking.
The legal agreement, called a consent order, was signed Thursday and filed Friday in Norfolk Circuit Court.
The TV ad is the subject of a $3 million defamation suit filed this month by the real estate agent, Alex S. Hargroves III, against North personally and the North campaign. That lawsuit will continue despite Friday's agreement.
The ad is an attack on Robb's credibility. In it, a narrator asks, ``Why can't Chuck Robb tell the truth - about the cocaine parties where Robb said he never saw drugs - then four of his party friends were sent to prison for dealing cocaine?''
Then the ad shows the word ``Imprisoned,'' followed by four names, one of which is ``A. Hargroves.''
Three of the men were indeed convicted of drug dealing in Virginia Beach. Hargroves, however, was never charged with drug dealing. He was convicted in 1987 of failing to report an employee who was dealing drugs. He served 90 days in a federal prison camp.
Hargroves' lawsuit claims that the ad, shown statewide for two weeks this month, exposed him to public humiliation for a crime he did not commit. The ad stopped running several days ago.
Hargroves also sought a court injunction to have his name removed from the ad. A hearing was scheduled for Friday in Circuit Court. Instead, North's campaign signed the consent order, agreeing to take Hargroves' name out of the ad.
``They're not planning on running the ad again, period,'' said an attorney for North's campaign, E. Mark Braden of Washington.
North personally has not responded to the lawsuit. ``We have yet to hear from anyone representing Mr. North individually,'' said Hargroves attorney, Richard H. Matthews.
Judge Thomas R. McNamara met with Hargroves' attorney behind closed doors for 15 minutes Friday but took no action. He told Matthews that the injunction request is moot because the ad is no longer running.
Later Friday, North's press secretary, Mark Merritt, said, ``We stand by the ad. Everything is working itself out.'' He declined to comment further. ILLUSTRATION: Photo
KEYWORDS: U.S. SENATE RACE VIRGINIA CANDIDATE CAMPAIGN ADVERTISING
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