Burlesque star denies ‘deep relationship’ with kink partner; alleges assault

The case of the Baltimore burlesque star who is being sued for defamation by her former “kink community” rope-play partner took an interesting turn this week with the defense filing its response in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland.

In court documents obtained by the Baltimore Post-Examiner, the defendant, Erin C. Foster (better known by her stage name: Sophia Sunday) denies most of plaintiff Bret Wade’s 50-point Complaint for Defamation. In addition, Sunday avers in her counterclaim that she was sexually assaulted by Wade. She is also countersuing Wade for damages.

Because of the sensitive nature surrounding sexual assault cases, the Baltimore Post-Examiner does not report the details of an alleged sexual assault. The Baltimore Post-Examiner would also not normally use the names of either the alleged victim(s) or alleged perpetrator(s) in a story. But because they themselves thrust their names into the public record – the Post-Examiner has lifted that cloak.

As reported earlier, Wade filed his $1.5 million defamation lawsuit on the grounds that Sunday had defamed his character in an attempt to save her marriage. Sunday maintains that Wade purposely committed a “consent violation” and took advantage of her, while she was tied up and too drunk to consent to sexual activity.

In discussing, “The elements necessary for a plaintiff to prove a case of defamation in Maryland,” The Maryland People’s Law Library (MPLL) in the section Defamation Law in Maryland, notes:

“(1) that the defendant made a defamatory statement to a third person, (2) that the statement was false, (3) that the defendant was legally at fault in making the statement, and (4) that the plaintiff thereby suffered harm. A defamatory statement is one ‘which tends to expose a person to public scorn, hatred, contempt or ridicule, thereby discouraging others in the community from having a good opinion of, or associating with, that person.’”

The MPLL adds: “In determining fault in a matter of defamation, private persons only have to prove that the person defaming them was negligent, failing to act with due care considering the circumstances.”

Sunday not only denies Wade’s assertion that she defamed him, but she goes on to say in point number 12 of her Affirmative Defenses:

“Plaintiff did not have a good reputation and consequently his reputation could not be harmed or could not be substantially harmed. Among the reasons that Plaintiff’s reputation is not good is that there are rumors, the truth of which are unknown to Defendant, that Plaintiff engaged in unconsented sexual activity with one or more persons other than Defendant.”

Sunday also denies that the two shared a “deep relationship”. She does, however, admit to meeting Wade and his alternative family for dinner at a Baltimore restaurant on or about the evening of July 29, 2016 (the date of the alleged assault). The parties’ accounts of events following their dinner that evening vary widely.

In summarizing her counterclaims, Sunday’s court filing states:

Detail of a woman’s arms in bondage. (Clarence Risher – Wikimedia)

“In late July 2016 Plaintiff Bret Wade tied Defendant Erin Foster (Sunday) up without having permission to do so. He then sexually assaulted Foster… without her consent and while she was unconscious. He then sought to bully Foster to never speak about the incident by filing (his) lawsuit in bad faith and by publicly branding Foster a liar. Wade’s conduct was malicious, vindictive and tortious and it caused Foster severe emotional distress and other harm. Moreover, if Wade’s conduct results in no adverse consequences to him, it will deter victims of sexual assault from speaking out about what happened to them, a development that would have a grave negative impact on society. Consequently, Foster is entitled to recover her actual damages from the harm Wade caused her plus a substantial additional sum in punitive damages to punish Wade and to deter similar future conduct by Wade and others.”

While Sunday does not name a specific amount of money in her counterclaim, she does ask in her Request for Relief:

(a) That Plaintiff (Wade) take nothing on his claims.
(b) That Defendant (Sunday) be awarded damages on each of her counterclaims.
(c) That Defendant be awarded punitive damages on each of her counterclaims.
(d) That Defendant be awarded appropriate injunctive relief.
(e) That Defendant be awarded interest.
(f) That Defendant be awarded such other relief as is just and proper.

Sunday is being defended in this case by Matthew B. Kaplan of Arlington, Virginia. Wade’s counsel is Marc A. Ominsky of Columbia, Maryland.

Reached by phone for comment, Kaplan said neither he nor Sunday have any thing to add at this time. Ominsky had not replied to an email request for comment by press time.

The next phase of the case is the discovery process. The Baltimore Post-Examiner will continue to follow this case.  You can find the first story here.

(Top photo: Credit Tom Burke from Morgan Hill, CA, USA Wikimedia Commons)