Kelly Loses Defamation Suit

City Councilman Jack Kelly just lost his civil lawsuit against Paul Corbett, who Kelly said distributed fliers that damaged his 2007 campaign.

Kelly filed a defamation suit against Corbett. He argued that Corbett’s fliers, which accused Kelly of voting "with the homosexual lobby" to "promote sodomy to our youth," endangered his effort to be re-elected to an at-large seat on Council.

A jury today found that the flier was defamatory and false but not distributed with malice.

Corbett, 80, was incensed after Kelly and 15 other Council members voted in May 2007 to force the local Boy Scouts chapter to pay $200,000 per year or move off city-owned property it had rented for $1 per year since 1928. Council acted after deciding the Boy Scouts, who ban participation by homosexuals, were violating the city's anti-discrimination ordinance.

Corbett distributed the fliers at churches in Northeast Philadelphia just before the 2007 Republican primary election, using the name, "Citizens Opposed to Politicians who Pander to Perverts."

Kelly held off challenger David Oh by just 123 votes after a recount. He sued to recoup money his campaign committee spent to counter the flyers and fight for the recount.