DOVER, Del. (AP) — A former Donald Trump supporter who became the center of a conspiracy theory about Jan. 6, 2021, filed a defamation lawsuit against Fox News on Wednesday, saying the network made him a scapegoat for the U.S. Capitol insurrection.
Raymond Epps, a former Marine who said he was forced from his Arizona home due to threats, is asking for unspecified damages and a jury trial.
He filed his lawsuit in Superior Court in Delaware, the same court where Dominion Voting Systems sued Fox for lies broadcast following the 2020 presidential election. Shortly before a trial was to begin this spring, Fox agreed to pay Dominion $787 million to settle the charges.
Fox had no immediate comment on Epps’ lawsuit.
Epps, who had traveled to Washington for the Jan. 6 demonstration, was falsely accused by Fox of being a government agent who was whipping up trouble that would be blamed on Trump supporters, the lawsuit claims.
“In the aftermath of the events of January 6th, Fox News searched for a scapegoat to blame other than Donald Trump or the Republican Party,” the lawsuit said. “Eventually, they turned on one of their own.”
Although the lawsuit mentions Fox’s Laura Ingraham and Will Cain, former Fox host Tucker Carlson was cited as the leader in promoting the theory. Epps was featured in more than two dozen segments on Carlson’s prime-time show, the lawsuit said. Fox News fired Carlson shortly after the Dominion settlement was announced.
The lawsuit said that Carlson “was bluntly telling his viewers that it was a fact that Epps was a government informant. And they believed him.”
Carlson ignored evidence that contradicted his theory, including Epps’ testimony before the congressional committee that investigated the insurrection that he was not working for the government, and videotapes provided by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy that showed Epps’ efforts to try to defuse the situation that day, the lawsuit said.
Carlson was not named as a defendant in the lawsuit. Epps’ lawyer, Michael Teter, said that Carlson “was an employee of Fox when he lied about Ray, and Fox broadcast those defamatory falsehoods.”
“Fox is therefore fully liable for Mr. Carlson’s statements,” Teter said.
The former Fox star did not return a message seeking comment.
Epps claims in his lawsuit that, as a result of the alleged defamatory statements made by Fox, he and his wife have been the target of harassment and death threats from Trump supporters.
“Epps, sleep with one eye open,” read one message that he received.
Epps said he was also forced to sell the Arizona ranch where they ran a successful wedding venue business, and now faces financial ruin. According to the lawsuit, Epps and his wife are now living in a recreational vehicle in Utah.