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SHORT TAKES : Geraldo Guest Gets $5 Million

March 20, 1990| From Times Staff and Wire Service Reports

NEWARK, N.J. — A man who was acquitted in 1986 of molesting his young daughter was awarded more than $5 million in damages for being defamed by members of the audience at Geraldo Rivera's talk show.

U.S. District Judge Maryanne Trump Barry on Monday entered a default judgment granting Lawrence Spiegel $1 million in special damages and $4 million in punitive damages.

Spiegel's attorney, Stephen Haft, said Faye Yeager of Atlanta and Lydia Rayner of Gulfport, Miss., defendants in the 1988 federal slander suit, failed to file answers or appear at Monday's hearing. Haft said his client was a guest on the nationally televised show in 1988 when the defendants--wearing wigs and sunglasses--began berating Spiegel from the audience.

He said the women, who are associated with the national group Mothers Against Raping Children, had previously harassed Spiegel during a speaking engagement in California.

Spiegel, a New Jersey psychologist, was indicted in December, 1983, on charges of molesting his then-2-year-old daughter. He was cleared of the charges in January, 1986.

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