LAWYER: WCTI Will Remain Part Of Skip Waters Lawsuit

The lawyer for a man suing a New Bern television station and its chief meteorologist says a judge is expected to sign an order keeping the station in that lawsuit.

On November 10th Pitt County Superior Court Judge Russell Duke heard testimony and arguments from WCTI that is should be excluded from the lawsuit.

The lawsuit was brought this summer by Jon Lero. He claimed Skip Waters bought him drugs, had sex with him and showed him pornography when he was 16 years old.

WCTI's lawyer told the judge that Channel 12 should be dismissed from the lawsuit because the allegations did not involve station property. The station's lawyer told the judge that WCTI was never officially put on notice about the allegations.

Lero's attorney called Waters the "face of the station." Lero's attorney said WCTI is a news organization and should know what's going on in the community.

Lero's attorney said after the judge signs the order the next step in the civil lawsuit will be the discovery phase.


Previous Story

A New Bern television station told a judge Tuesday morning that it should be dropped from a lawsuit filed against the station and its chief meteorologist.

The lawsuit was brought this summer. Jon Lero claims Skip Waters bought him drugs, had sex with him and showed him pornography when he was 16 years old.

In a Pitt County courtroom Tuesday morning, WCTI's lawyer said Channel 12 should be dismissed from the lawsuit because the allegations did not involve station property. The station's lawyer told the judge that WCTI was never officially put on notice about the allegations.

Lero's attorney called Waters the "face of the station." Lero's attorney said WCTI is a news organization and should know what's going on in the community. The judge is expected to rule next week. Neither side would comment following Tuesday's court hearing.


Previous Story

WCTI chief meteorologist Skip Waters denies he bought a 16 year old drugs, had sex with him, or showed him pornography in 2004.

Bert Diener, the attorney for 21 year-old John Lero, who filed suit against Waters, said Monday was the deadline for a response to be filed in court.

In the documents, Waters denies having a sexual relationship with Lero when he was 16 and asks for the suit to be dismissed.


Original Story

A long-time television meteorologist and his TV station have been named in a lawsuit alleging an inappropriate relationship with a teenager.

The lawsuit, against Skip Waters and the owners of WCTI-TV, was filed late last month in Pitt County. WITN News obtained a copy of the court document Tuesday morning.

In the 10-page lawsuit, John Lero claims he met Waters at the television station in 2004 when he was approximately 16. Lero is now 21.

The lawsuit claims Waters invited the teen to his home and eventually initiated a sexual relationship with the teen.

The suit alleges the meteorologist would rent pornographic movies and purchase marijuana and alcohol for the two to smoke and drink. It also claims Waters gave the teen a key to his home and that the two had unprotected sex.

The lawsuit also says in June 2006, "Defendant (Waters) told Craven County Law Enforcement that Plaintiff (Lero) had kidnapped and raped him.”

It says Lero was arrested and jailed. The suit says those charges were dropped two weeks later by the district attorney's office. The suit claims the Waters made the accusations out of “spite” and “revenge” because the plaintfiff was not spending as much time with Waters.

The lawsuit says it named WCTI's owners as well because the television station had employed "Waters as a community liaison" and that the station "had an ample opportunity to witness the inappropriate intimate relationship" between Waters and the teen.

The lawsuit says in January 2008 the station was given notice of Waters' "illegal sexual conduct and drug use with the Plaintiff in the form of a letter.”

It says after receiving the letter, WCTI's owners "still employed and directed defendant Waters to visit local elementary schools.”

The lawsuit is seeking damages in excess of $120,000.

A legal expert tells WITN the age of consent in North Carolina is 16, and there is no criminal act as long as there is consent. The expert says that changes if dominance, authority or coercion is used to force the 16-year-old to consent.

District Attorney Scott Thomas said the allegations against Waters in the lawsuit were investigated criminally back in 2006 by the Trent Woods police, and no charges were filed against Waters.

Thomas said the case was one person’s word against another’s word.

The lawsuit also cites Waters two prior DWI convictions, which according to court documents took place in 2004 and 1989.

In a statement, WCTI's vice president and general manager said the station has done nothing wrong.

"The station believes it has no liability in this situation and will defend itself against these baseless charges. The alleged incidents are of a private nature and are not connected to the employee's role or responsibilities at the station," said Fisher.

Fisher told WITN News that Waters was still employed by the station.

Asked if Waters would be on the air Tuesday night, Fisher responded "if he feel like he wants to go on tonight he will, but that determination has yet to be made."

Fisher’s statement said an internal investigation was started once the station became aware of the lawsuit.

“Furthermore, we will afford the employee the presumption of innocence guaranteed to all citizens,” Fisher’s statement read. “If at any time it is demonstrated that the actions of the employee were inappropriate, or violated company policy, we will take appropriate action.”

WITN is trying to contact Waters for a statement. There was no answer at his home early Tuesday afternoon.


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