Barbara Walters wins defamation lawsuit

LOS ANGELES, March 28 ( - Barbara Walters is off the hook for a lawsuit filed by a woman who once dated her adopted daughter.

Judge George O'Toole of the U.S. District Court in Massachusetts ruled Tuesday that Nancy Shay's defamation lawsuit had insufficient merit, ending a legal drama that began last year, when Shay filed the suit.

Shay, who befriended Jacqueline Gruber, when the pair attended school together in the 1980s, sued Walters following the publication her 2008 memoir, "Audition."

"Jackie started to refuse to come home on weekends," Walters' book reads. "She had a new friend named Nancy, whom the school kicked out midterm for bad behavior."

In another passage, Walters writes, "She and Jackie had been found in a nearby town, high on God-knows-what."

In her suit, Shay claimed not only that Walters' account was inaccurate -- she claimed to have been expelled for a different reason -- but that the claims in the book thrust her into a spiral of depression.

"Took away what little self-esteem I had left, like I was expendable, and because I'm lesbian, I'm almost shunned, put back into the dark ages," Shay said in the suit. " put me back to where I was when I was a teenager."

In Tuesday's ruling, O'Toole said that Shay "fails to allege the fault necessary for such a claim."

"Moreover," the ruling continues, "the alleged defamatory statements could not have caused harm to the plaintiff in a considerable segment of the community because, according to the complaint, the small number of people who would have been able to recognize the book's oblique references to the plaintiff would also likely have been aware that of the circumstances of her expulsion that were the subject matter of the accused statements."

Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.

(Editing By Zorianna Kit)

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