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U of M professor falsely accused of rape wins $1.2M defamation case

He was falsely accused of rape and stalking in 2017.

A University of Minnesota Law School professor who was falsely accused of rape in 2017 has won a nearly $1.2 million defamation case against his accuser.

Hennepin County Judge Daniel Moreno wrote in his order for judgment this week that the accusations Francesco Parisi's former lover, Morgan Wright, made against him were "false, made with malice, unprotected by a qualified privilege, and therefore defamatory — Wright injured Parisi as a direct result of her untruthful narrative crusade."

The lawsuit is believed to be the largest defamation judgment in Minnesota history, the Star Tribune reports. Parisi was awarded a total of $1,189,514, which includes $814,514 in economic losses, $50,000 in actual losses, $125,000 in general and emotional damages, $100,000 in general reputational damages and $100,000 in punitive damages, according to the judgement. 

According to court documents, Parisi and Wright were involved in a relationship between late 2014-early 2015. She went to police in January 2017, accusing him of stalking and raping her in January 2015. Parisi was charged with sexual assault and stalking on Feb. 21, 2017. The charges were dropped on March 9, 2017, with the Hennepin County Attorney's Office saying it wasn't able to "corroborate or verify a number of specific allegations against" him. 

Between the end of their relationship and the rape accusation, the two became "embroiled in issues" related to a real estate project, and Parisi sought to cancel the purchase contract he made with Wright, the judgment said, and "so began Wright's retaliatory offensive, culminating with her defamatory claim that Parisi raped her."

"Ultimately, the evidence presented at trial required the court to find that Parisi was subject to defamation that harmed his personal and professional life," the judgment concluded.

Parisi told FOX 9 he believes in the "Me Too" movement and said the tragedy of this case is it could take away credibility from real victims. 

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