The parents of slain Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich spoke out on Thursday's "Good Morning America" about their lawsuit against Fox News over the network's role in a baseless conspiracy theory about their son's death.
"They never called us to check any facts," Seth Rich's mother, Mary Rich, said on the ABC morning show. "We lost his body the first time, and the second time we lost his soul."
In an emotional interview, she said, "they took more from us with the lies" and that what her and her husband, Joel, want is "our son's life and his soul restored and I want our life back so we can move forward again."
The lawsuit states that Malia Zimmerman, the Fox News reporter named in the lawsuit, worked with Ed Butowsky, a wealthy Texas businessman, to develop a "sham" story about Rich's death. The story was published on Fox News' website in May 2017 and was referred to multiple times on air. The lawsuit seeks compensation for "mental anguish and emotional distress, emotional pain and suffering, and any other physical and mental injuries."
Zimmerman's story said Rod Wheeler, a private investigator and Fox News contributor hired by Butowsky to look into Rich's death, had learned that Wikileaks had been in contact with Rich prior to his death. The story suggested without any real evidence that Rich had leaked DNC emails to Wikileaks and further suggested that his death, which police suspect was a botched robbery, was retribution for the supposed leak.
Within hours the story fell apart when Wheeler, who filed his own lawsuit against Fox News last summer, told CNN he had no evidence to suggest Rich had contacted Wikileaks before his death. The network ultimately retracted the story seven days after it was published.
Speaking with ABC News' Tom Llamas, Mary Rich said that she wants "the people who started the lies, who are responsible for the lies, held accountable."
"This has got to stop," she said.
Leonard A. Gail, the attorney representing the Rich family, appeared on MSNBC on Thursday saying "What Fox did, and the other defendants, they basically propagated a story that was false."
"They did it with utter disregard for the fact that the Rich's were mourning the life of their son," he told MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell. "They, the defendants, had their own agendas and they moved forward with something that was baseless, and as a civilized society we have to say enough."
The network said at the time it retracted its story that it would carry out an investigation and "provide updates as warranted." So far, Fox News has announced no disciplinary action or updates related to the publication of its story.
A Fox News spokesperson, Zimmerman and Butowsky did not immediately respond when asked for comment on this story.
-- CNN's Oliver Darcy contributed reporting to this story.
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