Here is the full response that Craig O'Dear sent to me via e-mail:
The article you have drafted and now threaten to publish conveys a false and misleading impression of people about whom you have little knowledge.
Stephanie was and is the love of my life. We were married in 1995, and legally divorced in November 2012. Many years prior to the effective date of our divorce, we ceased to be a married couple, and my marital obligations to Stephanie came to an end. I was not unfaithful in the marriage, and Stephanie never alleged in our divorce proceeding that I had been. Your draft article conveys an impression to the contrary. That impression is false.
Further, I have never at any time in my life been romantically involved with any woman who was married. You draft article conveys a false impression to the contrary on that issue as well by highlighting the marketing tag line for the dating site you reference and implying anyone who might have used it did so for the purpose of engaging in an extramarital affair. The only possible purpose you could have to do this is to publish something you believe will draw traffic to your site, with an intent to embarrass and damage me and Stephanie and our children, both personally and professionally. During this difficult period in my life, whatever social activity I engaged in violated no marital obligations. My focus was being the best father I could be to my children and being the best lawyer I could be practicing law and taking care of my clients. If you took the time to interview anyone who has any personal knowledge of my life, you would know this.
The good news in all of this is that in the Spring of 2014, Stephanie approached me and expressed a desire to re-establish our relationship and reunite our family. Unlike most of the stories of broken marriages, this one has a happy ending. We engaged in a process that achieved our objective, and Stephanie and I are again partners in life, living together with our children, and enjoying the blessing of all that entails. This is yet another point on which your draft article conveys a false and misleading impression, because you know nothing about the people and the family you seek to slander.
I am copying Stephanie on this email. I told her of your communication to me. She has seen your draft "article" and she told me she had some comments to convey to you as well. You should refrain from publishing your false and slanderous "article." If you proceed to publish this false and misleading article, an act which is legally actionable, we insist you publish in full in the same article my response and Stephanie's response, which tells the real story of our lives and corrects the many false impressions your article conveys.
Craig S. O'Dear
Sent from my iPhone
Mr. O'Dear makes a number of curious, even alarming, statements. A few such statements require a response from me:
1. I did not "threaten" to publish anything. I said I was going to publish an article on Mr. O'Dear's appearance at Ashley Madison, which he does not deny, and I even sent him a draft to fact-check, comment on, or take questions about. Why does he use the word "threaten"? My best guess is this: Most extortion statutes use some version of the term "threat" or "threaten." Such laws generally govern situations where someone says, "I'm going to publish this unflattering information if you don't do such and such." That is a threat, and nothing like that is present in my communication with Mr. O'Dear. As a "Super Lawyer," he should know that, but he apparently wants to send a not-so-subtle threat himself.
2. O'Dear repeatedly claims my article gives a "false and misleading impression" about him and his family life. He never points out anything that is false, and he apparently is the arbiter of what is, or is not, a "misleading impression." His comment seems to be an attempt to "read into" my article information that is not there.
3. O'Dear claims my article "conveys the impression" that he had been unfaithful in his marriage, even though his wife never alleged that in her divorce proceeding. Well, that's fine, but my article doesn't allege that either. It's curious that O'Dear takes a literal approach to reading his wife's divorce documents, but reads my article based on "impressions" that he pulls out of thin air.
4. O'Dear claims he never has been romantically involved with a married woman, but again, my article never says that he has been. He also says he never engaged in social activity that violated marital obligations. Again, my article doesn't say that he has. O'Dear seems to be focusing on Ashley Madison's motto: "Life is short, have an affair." That is the language the firm has used to differentiate itself from standard dating sites. Ashley Madison developed that language, not I; and the company clearly was targeting those who were at least interested in the possibility of an extramarital affair. That's a marketing decision Ashley Madison made, and Mr. O'Dear fell for, but I was not involved in that process.
5. O'Dear seems to dip into mind-reading when he claims my reporting "will draw traffic to your site, with an intent to embarrass and damage me and Stephanie and our children, both personally and professionally." The truth? I've never said anything in my communications with Mr. O'Dear about blog traffic, embarrassing anyone, or damaging anyone (personally, professionally, or otherwise).
6. I'm pleased the O'Dears have reunited, and that information only came to light because I did legwork -- also known as journalism -- to bring it to light. My original reporting references the reunion, and I address it again here. And yet, O'Dear still claims I am seeking to "slander" his family.
7. O'Dear then refers me to Stephanie O'Dears comments -- which we will share in an upcoming post -- but he warns that I should not publish this "false and slanderous" article, which he deems "legally actionable." That's a clear threat of a lawsuit. As I've stated on this blog several times, all of us are subject to being sued each day, from the moment we wake up until the moment we plop back in bed. I suppose we can be sued while we are asleep, perhaps for "negligent dreaming" or "intentional infliction of dreamy distress." That doesn't mean any old lawsuit is legally actionable, and the filing of baseless lawsuits comes with the possibility of countersuits and sanctions.
Now, let's see what Stephanie O'Dear has to say.
(To be continued)