Virginia investigator linked to Parole Board leaks can sue over her firing, judge rules
A former Virginia employee who investigated claims of misconduct at the Virginia Parole Board can continue pursuing a federal lawsuit against current and former state officials over her politically contentious firing last year, a judge ruled Thursday.
Ruling on a motion by defense attorneys to dismiss the civil suit brought by former Office of the State Inspector General investigator Jennifer Moschetti, U.S. District Court Judge Henry Hudson struck down three of Moschetti’s six legal claims as insufficient. The state itself, the IG’s office and a spokesperson for the IG’s office were removed from the case entirely.
But the judge declined to dismiss Moschetti’s defamation claims against two high-ranking officials from former Gov. Ralph Northam’s administration — chief of staff Clark Mercer and public safety secretary Brian Moran — over comments they made denouncing her Parole Board investigation as biased. Those statements can’t be construed as pure opinion, Hudson wrote, and allowing the lawsuit to proceed will shed more light on their validity and context.
“Whether Moschetti’s report and therefore her work product more generally, is biased or lacks objectivity is verifiable,” Hudson wrote.
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