August 9, 2006
For almost a year, they've been fighting over the airwaves.
But today, radio rivals "Ryan B." and Austin Rhodes took it to an Aiken County courtroom.
Rhodes asked a judge to issue a restraining order preventing Ryan B. from making false statements about him on the air.
News 12's Jonathan Martin was the only reporter in the courtroom, and he caught up with both radio personalities after the hearing. It's a story only on 12.
WGAC host Austin Rhodes already has a pending defamation lawsuit against rejoice 94.7's Ryan B., but it could be months before that case is heard.
That's why Rhodes asked a judge to stop Ryan B's alleged slander slanderous behavior now.
"We believe this whole case is frivolous," Ryan B. said. "It is a case of power."
"We have a serious case against them, and they better fix what they're doing wrong," Rhodes said.
The radio rivals have taken jabs at each over the airwaves for nearly a year, but Rhodes says it's gone too far.
His attorney asked Judge Jack Early for an immediate restraining order preventing Ryan B. from broadcasting statements he calls defamatory.
"Where he clearly says I was arrested for a sex offense; I was arrested for indecent exposure; I am guilty of spousal abuse and other things too, that are blatantly false," Rhodes said.
"No, we said he should be put on the sex offender list," said Ryan B. "That is an opinion, and we have a right to an opinion."
Rhodes admits he was convicted of disorderly conduct in 1985 for public urination and he paid a fine, but he says that's his only run-in with the law. Rhodes claims Ryan B. has said over the radio and Augusta Focus manager Champ Walker has printed stories claiming Rhodes is a sex offender.
"It is a lie, and the First Amendment does not protect lies," Rhodes said.
"I had nothing to say whatsoever about Austin being a sex offender," Walker said. "That is slanderous and a defamation of my character to ever say I would say that."
The judge warned the men that if a jury finds them guilty of the allegations during an upcoming civil trial, they'll be forced to pay serious damages.
But Judge Early denied Rhodes' restraining order request, ruling it would violate Ryan B.'s First Amendment rights.
Both men claim the decision as a victory.
"I think it's pretty clear that they were warned to shut up, stop telling anymore lies, and that's really all we were asking for today," Rhodes said.
"He's got to get over it," said Ryan B. "He comes on the radio, he says what he wants and when someone says something about him, he wants to cry wolf."
The case will be heard before a jury.
Today's hearing took place in Aiken County because the radio station WAAW is in Aiken.
Up until today, Ryan B. has never publicly stated his legal name. But when the judge asked him for his full name, he stated that it was Brian Lamont Doyle.