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Article 29: December 13, 2022
Reporter files pre-suit notice against Manning

A reporter for this newspaper has filed a notice of his intent to file a tort action against Alicia Manning of the McCurtain County Sheriff’s Department and the Board of County Commissioners.

Oklahoma statutes require such notice to precede the filing of a lawsuit against Manning. Once the notice is filed, commissioners have 90 days to respond, or the person filing the notice can file suit.

Reporter Chris Willingham claims that Manning has committed “egregious slander and intentional infliction of emotional distress” against him, and that commissioners are liable to the extent the torts were committed within the scope of her employment at the sheriff’s office.

Willingham claims that on June 18 of this year, Manning during a teleconference told a person that Willingham has exchanged marijuana for pornographic videos of children from Ian Highful.

In addition, Manning stated that Willingham was “one of them,” and named Highful, Brad Porton, and Bryan Nicholson.

The third party understood Manning to be accusing Willingham of committing sexual crimes against children, the notice claims.

“Manning’s statements about Willingham are false, slanderous, go beyond all possible bounds of decency, and are utterly intolerable in a civilized society,” the notice states, adding further that Willingham, based on information and belief, alleges Manning made these and other egregious statements in retaliation for articles he has written about the sheriff’s office in his work at this paper.

The notice says Willingham and his wife have suffered severe emotional distress, and that they fear for their personal safety in light of Manning’s statements and her position of power within the sheriff’s office.

Willingham is being represented by Kilpatrick Townsend and Stockton LLP.