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THE COURT FILES / ANN W. O'NEILL

Priscilla Presley Tries to Fend Off Personal Queries

March 29, 1998|ANN W. O'NEILL

Priscilla Presley in the hot seat . . . a verdict for Time . . . and staking a claim to "The Outer Limits."

She's rich, she's famous and she's beautiful, but these days we don't envy Priscilla Presley. An old nemesis and his lawyer seem intent on asking her some very personal questions this week about life as the teenage companion of the king of rock 'n' roll.

Presley, who met Elvis when she was 14 and married him seven years later, recently slapped one of the king's former Army buddies with a $5-million slander suit. She charges that he lied when he told an unauthorized Priscilla Presley biographer that she wasn't a virgin on her wedding day.

Now a judge has ordered Presley to appear Tuesday in the office of the Army buddy's lawyer to give a deposition.

"If she does show up, the questions are all about sex," said attorney Michael Jay Berger, who has been trying for months to force Presley to talk.

Presley's lawyer, Marty Singer, said he will advise his client not to answer any questions that he considers irrelevant or inappropriate.

"She's got nothing to hide," Singer said. "The issues in this case are simple. It's a matter of 'He said, she said.' "

Presley said Lavern Currie Grant, the king's Army pal, damaged her reputation by telling the biographer that he slept with her shortly before she met Elvis. In his countersuit, Currie said Priscilla Presley slandered him by charging that he tried to rape her.

MENENDI ADDENDI: In yet another spinoff of the trials that won't die, William Vicary, the Harvard-educated psychiatrist who assisted Erik Menendez's defense, will keep his medical license, threatened by a complex dispute in the fabled case.

All he has to do is cooperate with the State Bar of California's ethics investigation of Menendez's defense attorney, Leslie Abramson, which he had always been willing to do anyway, said his lawyer, Paul Fitzgerald.

Vicary stirred up a lot of attention at the second Menendez trial when he testified that he had changed his notes in 24 places after Abramson threatened to take him off the case if he didn't.

Abramson said that all she did was tell Vicary to delete information that the judge had already ruled was prejudicial or irrelevant. She said it was she who had turned the unedited notes over to the prosecution.

The Medical Board of California wanted to suspend Vicary's medical license. Under the terms of his deal with the board, Vicary admitted that deleting potentially incriminating statements by Menendez was unethical.

Erik Menendez and his brother, Lyle, are serving life terms in separate prisons for the 1989 shotgun murders of their wealthy parents.

A TIME-LY VERDICT: After a brief trial that featured testimony from O.J. Simpson prosecutors Marcia Clark and Bill Hodgman, a jury in Los Angeles Superior Court has returned a verdict in favor of Time magazine in a libel suit by a former girlfriend of O.J. Simpson guest house dweller Brian "Kato" Kaelin.

Rachel Ferrara's 15 minutes of fame came when it was revealed that she was the young woman who spoke on the phone with Kaelin when he mentioned hearing three thumps on the guest house's wall on the night Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Lyle Goldman were slain.

Time reported that two of Ferrara's friends said she had given conflicting accounts of what Kaelin told her. She demanded $2 million in damages from the magazine. She said Time had implied that she had committed perjury.

Jurors found three of the Time statements to be factually correct and the fourth to be inaccurate but not libelous, said the magazine's attorney, Robert C. Vanderet. That statement, jurors found, was privileged as a "fair and true report" of judicial proceedings and witness statements made to law enforcement officials.

Clark was called as a witness for Ferrara, while Hodgman testified during the magazine's defense.

LITIGATING THE "OUTER LIMITS": Two creators of the original 1960s sci-fi television series "The Outer Limits" are suing MGM and a former partner over rights to the 1990s version. The new "Outer Limits," carried since 1995 on Showtime, is said to be the most successful hourlong show in the short history of cable television.

In their lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, Mark Victor and Michael Grais charge that former partner Leslie Stevens, MGM and several production companies conspired to defraud them out of their fair share of profits from the new series.

Victor and Grais contend that the producers of the new version of "The Outer Limits" never told them of their plans for the sequel. But the plaintiffs said the new version includes features dreamed up by Victor and Grais, including the eerie theme song and the opening narration telling viewers they've lost control of their television sets.

Stevens, according to the suit by attorney Larry R. Feldman, sold his rights in 1990 to Victor and Grais for $5,000.

An MGM spokesman had no comment, and Stevens could not be reached for comment.

BRENDA BITES BACK: Actress Shannen Doherty is sick and tired of people hauling her into court, and she's not going to take it anymore.

Doherty, best known for her role as pouty Brenda Walsh on "Beverly Hills, 90210" and the occasional legal scrape, is suing one of her parents' neighbors for malicious prosecution. The neighbor, Beate Falk, originally had sued Doherty over a dog bite.

According to Doherty's lawyer, Patricia L. Glaser, it wasn't Doherty's dog that bit Falk. The alleged canine attack didn't even take place on Doherty's property, Glaser added.

Doherty's suit, filed in Superior Court in Santa Monica, contends that Falk sued Doherty to harass her and "publicly exploit her celebrity to force a financial settlement."

Falk's case against Doherty was dismissed Jan. 8, the suit stated.

Times correspondent Sue McAllister contributed to this column.

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