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Cardi B awarded $1.25m in libel lawsuit against celebrity gossip blogger

  • >> Alyssa Lukpat, The New York Times
    Published: 2022-01-26 14:37:42 BdST

Cardi B at Beautycon at the Javitz Center, in New York, April 7, 2019. A federal jury on Jan 25, 2022, awarded the rapper $1.25 million in damages in a libel lawsuit against the YouTuber Tasha K, a celebrity gossip blogger who had posted videos claiming that Cardi B was a prostitute. Dolly Faibyshev/The New York Times

A federal jury awarded rapper Cardi B around $4 million in a libel lawsuit against a celebrity gossip blogger who had posted videos in 2018 claiming that the singer was a prostitute who had contracted sexually transmitted infections and used cocaine.

Cardi B, whose real name is Belcalis Almanzar, had sued the celebrity gossiper, known as Tasha K, in 2019 for posting more than 20 videos that spread “malicious rumours” about the rapper, according to the lawsuit, which was filed in US District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, where Tasha K lives.

The jury found Tasha K, whose real name is Latasha Kebe, liable on two counts of slander and one count each of libel and invasion of privacy, according to a verdict filed Monday.

The jury awarded Almanzar $1.25 million Monday and an additional $2.8 million Tuesday, according to separate verdicts filed Monday and Tuesday. The award includes $25,000 for medical expenses and around $1.3 million to cover the rapper’s legal fees.

Kebe had also posted in 2018 that Almanzar had herpes outbreaks in her mouth and that she would give birth to a child with intellectual disabilities.

Almanzar, 29, testified in court this month that she “felt extremely suicidal” after Kebe posted the videos, adding that “only an evil person could do that,” Lisa Moore, a lawyer for Almanzar, said Monday.

In the lawsuit, the rapper’s lawyers said that the content would damage her reputation with her fans and affect her business prospects. Cardi B, a Grammy-winning rapper from the Bronx, New York, found fame in 2017 with her song “Bodak Yellow,” which immortalised her propensity for making “money moves.”

Kebe’s claims have helped her amass millions of views on Twitter, Instagram and her YouTube channel, unWinewithTashaK. Most of the content can still be viewed online, even though the rapper sent Kebe a cease-and-desist letter a few months after Kebe first posted about her in 2018, according to the lawsuit.

Almanzar’s lawyers said Kebe was “obsessed with slandering” the rapper and that she posted the content because it got more views than her other posts, according to the lawsuit. Almanzar’s lawyers said that the rapper was not a prostitute, had never had herpes and had never used cocaine.

In a statement Tuesday, Kebe’s lawyers, Olga Izmaylova and Sadeer Sabbak, said they disagreed with the verdict and planned to appeal it.

On Monday afternoon, Kebe said on Twitter that “My Husband, Attorney’s, & I fought really hard,” adding, “it’s only up from here.”

Almanzar had filed the lawsuit against both Kebe and Starmarie Ebony Jones, a guest on Kebe’s YouTube channel who had claimed to be a former friend of the rapper.

Jones was not included in the verdict Monday because she moved to New York after Almanzar sued her, the rapper’s lawyers said. The lawyers filed another lawsuit against her in New York, where she was found liable last year on counts of libel, slander and invasion of privacy. A lawyer for Jones could not immediately be reached for comment Monday night.

This case was not the first time the rapper found herself in court. She was indicted in Queens, New York, in 2019 in connection with a fight in a strip club the year before. The case is still ongoing.

©2022 The New York Times Company