Psychic Who Said a Texas Couple Was Hiding a Mass Grave Now Owes Them $6.8 Million
It's our sad duty this morning to bring you the last installment in the Case of the Psychic Who Couldn't See Shit, aka Presley "Rhonda" Gridley. Just about a year ago, a Liberty County, Texas, couple, Joe Bankson and Gena Charlton, sued Gridley and a whole bunch of media outlets in Dallas County court for falsely claiming they had a mass grave on their property. Gridley, who liked to go by the psychic nom de plume "Angel" at the time, called the Hays County Sheriff's Office, some 200 miles away from Liberty County, and chattily told the operator that if the cops paid a visit to a certain farmhouse, they'd find not just a mass grave, but the bones of missing children in the walls and "stuff written all over the walls in blood."
Presley "Rhonda" Gridley
It all sounded very upsetting, and also great for ratings, which is what sent both the Liberty County Sheriff's Office and a whole bunch of TV cameras out there. As a Liberty County blogger named Allen Youngblood later discovered when he dug up the call Gridley made to Hays County, Gridley made it clear to the cops that her claims stemmed from the fact that she was a "psychic and a reverend."
She's now also very deeply in debt. Last month, a judge ordered that Gridley pay the couple a whopping $6.8 million for the "mental anguish and damage suffered to reputation" that they both experienced.
- Texas Couple Sues Angel the Psychic, Belo, the Times and CNN Over False Claims Of a Mass Grave at Their House
- Angel the Psychic, Wrong About All Those Bodies at a Liberty County Farmhouse, Is Apparently Unaware She's Being Sued
Liberty County, you see, already settled with the couple out of court. The claims against all the media outlets were each eventually dismissed. That just left Gridley. When she was served with a subpoena at her house in Lago Vista, a little town some 35 miles northwest of Austin, she answered the door in a lovely, face-obscuring ensemble of beanie, sunglasses and a giant Texas A&M sweatshirt. Then she wrote a letter to the court, claiming confusion as to why she would need to come and be deposed. "I have no knowledge and am not aware of any situation or circumstance that would require me to appear, or give a deposition," she wrote.
And then she didn't. Appear, that is. She didn't respond to several subpoenas, she never showed up for a deposition, and she damn sure didn't make it to court on May 7, when Judge Carl Ginsberg ruled that she had "intentionally published an unambiguous statement by oral publication" that falsely claimed the Bankson/Charlton household kept dead bodies lying around. Because Gridley acted with "reckless disregard for the truth," defamed the couple, presented them in a false light, and damaged their reputations, Ginsberg decided, they were entitled to some cash.
Bankson was awarded $2 million for past mental anguish and damage to his reputation, and another $1 million for any such emotional/reputational distress that will be suffered in the future. Charlton was awarded identical amounts, plus $99,000 in past lost wages and $750,000 in future lost wages. That brings the total to a cool $6.8 million, with interest, awarded from June 6, 2011, the date Gridley made the call, to the present.
Of course, given that Gridley has never showed up for any of these legal proceedings and seems to be trying very hard to ignore their existence, there is the small question of whether the couple can ever reasonably expect to get paid. Probably don't need a psychic to predict that one. Especially not Angel. Man, was she bad at that job.