Statement From GLAAD Executive Director Joan M. Garry In Response To The Jenny Jones Civil Suit Verdict
In a civil suit in Oakland County, Michigan, a jury May 7 ordered the producers of The Jenny Jones Show to pay $25 million in damages for the 1995 murder of Scott Amedure by Jonathan Schmitz.
Joan M. Garry, executive director of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), issued the following statement in response to this morning's decision:
"This verdict has further-reaching implications than the effects of this one civil suit. At the heart of our culture is a media which can educate and inform, or it can damage and sensationalize. It's important that talk shows and other media be held accountable for their sensationalism - in that sense, at least, this ruling is encouraging. But let's temper that with the knowledge that Scott Amedure lost his life at the hands of Jon Schmitz: not The Jenny Jones Show. The danger here is that this ruling will undermine the perception of Schmitz's culpability in Scott Amedure's murder."
"GLAAD hopes that the media, the criminal trial attorneys and audiences across the country will bear these points in mind as the upcoming criminal trial plays out. A ruling that denounces sensationalism and the conviction of a man who killed based on fear and prejudice are not mutually exclusive."
Amedure and Schmitz appeared on an episode of The Jenny Jones Show taped on March 6, 1995, at which time the 32-year-old Amedure revealed his "secret crush" on the then 24-year-old Schmitz. Three days later, Schmitz purchased a shotgun and bullets and killed Amedure at his home in Orion Township, Michigan.
In 1996, Schmitz was convicted of second-degree murder and was sentenced to 25-50 years, but the verdict was overturned in September, 1998 on a technicality regarding jury selection. Throughout the criminal trial, Schmitz's defense centered around his public "humiliation" as his motive for the murder. Schmitz is scheduled to be re-tried in August of this year.