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Scandalous, prejudicial allegations stricken

Where a man was arrested after a woman accused him of rape, and the man then sued the woman claiming their sexual intercourse was consensual, allegations about the woman’s drug and alcoholic abuse and mental illness were stricken from the complaint because they were not probative of the man’s claims and were improperly scandalous and prejudicial.


In this lawsuit, Christopher White alleges that, on Dec. 9, 2023, he engaged in consensual sexual intercourse with Devon Key. Afterwards, Key accused White of raping her, and on Dec. 21, 2021, White was arrested for rape. After being arrested, a mugshot was taken of White and made public on the internet.

At a hearing held on January 4, 2022, White claims that a prosecutor with the Lynchburg’s Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office coached Key as a witness and told her what to say while she was testifying. In his complaint, White asserts claims of defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, unauthorized use of his mugshot, malicious prosecution and false arrest. He also claims that the Virginia Code § 2.2-3796, which authorizes the disclosure of law-enforcement and criminal records, is unconstitutional. Key has filed a motion to strike portions of the complaint.


The court initially declines to strike those paragraphs that are relevant to plaintiff’s defamation, malicious prosecution and false arrest claims and are not scandalous or prejudicial. Key nevertheless requests that the court strike allegations which accuse Key of being a drug abuser and an alcoholic and having a mental illness. The court agrees. Plaintiff’s allegations about Key’s drug and alcoholic abuse and mental illness are not probative of plaintiff’s claims and are improperly scandalous and prejudicial to Key.

Plaintiff is ordered to file an amended complaint within 21 days of the issuance of this order striking the following portions from his complaint: (1) the statement that Key is a “prescription pill abuser;” (2) the statement that Key is “medically diagnosed with mental illness;” (3) the statement that Key is “an admitted substance abuser and alcoholic;” (4) the statement that Key is “an individual on anti-psychotic medication, medically diagnosed with mental health issues and admitted substance abuser;” (5) the statement that Key is “an individual with medically diagnosed mental illness, admitted drug addiction/substance abuse illness, [and] a likely personality disorder.”

Defendant’s motion to strike granted in part, denied in part.

White v. Key, Case No. 6:23-cv-00007, April 24, 2023. WDVA at Lynchburg (Moon). VLW 023-3-220. 4 pp.

VLW 023-3-220

Virginia Lawyers Weekly