Video activist settles with community group worker

Mar 8, 2013, 5:01 PM

SAN DIEGO (AP) – A conservative activist who secretly filmed employees of the now-defunct community group ACORN has agreed to pay $100,000 to settle a lawsuit with one of those workers.

James O’Keefe and his partner in the videos, Hannah Giles, agreed to make the payment to Juan Carlos Vera. O’Keefe said in the settlement he “regrets any pain suffered by Vera and his family.”

The videos showed Vera and other ACORN employees appearing to give O’Keefe and Giles advice regarding prostitution, illegal immigration and other activities. The widely aired footage and the resulting outrage led to ACORN disbanding.

Vera told investigators he was just trying to get information from the suspicious pair. He immediately called a detective relative.

Vera’s attorney, Eugene Iredale, said he and his client were happy with the settlement, but it was a small consolation.

“Mr. Vera’s reputation was savaged, his job was taken from him, and the organization for which he worked was destroyed,” Iredale said. “They were able to destroy an organization by selective editing.”

O’Keefe’s attorney, Michael Madigan, called the payment a “nuisance settlement” and said O’Keefe has a career ahead as a talented investigative journalist.

ACORN, short for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform, portrayed itself as a successful advocate for low-income and minority homebuyers, but Republicans called it a pro-Democratic partisan.

In 2009, Vera was working in the housing section of ACORN’S National City office when O’Keefe and Giles came in with a hidden camera and asked questions similar to those they had at ACORN offices around the country, according to a report from California’s attorney general.

The edited video would show them wearing outlandish pimp and prostitute outfits as they entered, but the clothing was not shown in the interviews. O’Keefe wore a tie.

Giles claimed to be a prostitute looking to bring a dozen girls ages 12 to 15 to the U.S. from El Salvador. O’Keefe claimed to be her boyfriend, a recent law school graduate, but later suggested he may be involved in the prostitution, according to the report.

Vera initially changed the subject to the group’s housing program, but later told attorney general’s investigators he became suspicious of the pair and began answering their questions in hopes of getting more information, falsely saying he had contacts in Tijuana that could help with smuggling the girls.

When O’Keefe and Giles left, Vera called his police detective cousin, telling him about a couple of “crazy people” he had just talked to, and also informed a co-worker and an ACORN board member, the report said.

O’Keefe said in the settlement documents that when editing the videos he did not know Vera had called police.

The attorney general’s investigation found that some ACORN employees acted inappropriately, but none illegally.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

United States News

Associated Press

Israel OKs 1,300 settlement homes, testing fragile coalition

JERUSALEM (AP) — A senior Israeli minister said Monday that he opposes the government’s approval of more than 1,300 new settlement housing units in the occupied West Bank, highlighting stark disagreements between the country’s ideologically divided coalition members. The Israeli government on Sunday announced construction tenders for 1,355 housing units in the West Bank, the […]
4 hours ago
Associated Press

Suspected tornadoes cause damage in Missouri, Illinois

ST. MARY, Mo. (AP) — A suspected tornado damaged buildings and knocked out power in communities along the state line between Missouri and Illinois, and damage was reported in other parts of the states from severe weather. One suspected tornado moved Sunday night through St. Mary, Missouri, about 55 miles (88 kilometers) southeast of St. […]
4 hours ago
Associated Press

Sheriff: Child’s remains, 3 abandoned siblings found in home

HOUSTON (AP) — The skeletal remains of a child, and three surviving siblings who appear to have been abandoned, were found inside an apartment in the Houston area, a sheriff said. One of the children, a 15-year-old, called the Harris County Sheriff’s Office on Sunday afternoon and told authorities that his 9-year-old brother had been […]
4 hours ago
FILE - In this Oct. 5, 2021 file photo, former Facebook employee Frances Haugen speaks during a hea...
Associated Press

Whistleblower Haugen to testify as UK scrutinizes Facebook

LONDON (AP) — Former Facebook data scientist turned whistleblower Frances Haugen plans to answer questions Monday from lawmakers in the United Kingdom who are working on legislation to rein in the power of social media companies. Haugen is set to appear before a parliamentary committee scrutinizing the British government’s draft legislation to crack down on […]
4 hours ago
FILE - In this Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2019 file photo, Sudan's Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok speaks du...
Associated Press

The Latest: China urges dialogue between Sudan’s factions

BEIJING — China is urging a dialogue between Sudanese factions as an apparent military coup roils the nation. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said Monday that China wanted all parties in Sudan “to resolve their differences through dialogue so as to maintain peace and stability of the country.” He told reporters that China would continue […]
4 hours ago
Attendees embrace at a candlelight vigil for the late cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, pictured in ...
Associated Press

Crew member: Baldwin careful with guns before fatal shooting

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A camera operator told authorities that Alec Baldwin had been careful with weapons on the set of the film “Rust” before the actor shot and killed a cinematographer with a gun he’d been told was safe to use, court records released Sunday show. Cameraman Reid Russell told a detective that Baldwin […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Why fall maintenance is important for your heating system and A/C

It’s easy to ignore your heater and air conditioner when they’re working but the moment something breaks, you will likely regret not keeping up with maintenance. After all, if something goes wrong, you may be stuck with a repair that will take longer and be more expensive than simple maintenance.
...
PNC Bank

3 cool tips to turn everyday moments into learning experiences for your child

Early brain development has a crucial impact on a child’s ability to learn and succeed in school and life. Research has shown that 90% of a child’s brain is developed by age five.
...
Chris Kennedy

My Special Aflac Duck® taking flight in Arizona

For more than 65 years, Aflac has had the extraordinary opportunity and privilege to help provide peace of mind to individuals who have our supplemental insurance policies.
Video activist settles with community group worker