San Antonio Station Retracts Stories After Attorney Sues for Defamation

By Kevin Eck 

San Antonio CBS affiliate KENS has retracted two stories and apologized for “inaccurate” reports after accusing a San Antonio lawyer of being unprofessional and unethical.

In an I-Team report by former reporter Joe Conger, the station reported Jon Christian “Chris” Amberson had stolen land and mineral rights from a local couple. Amberson sued the station for defamation over the reports and was looking for “at least $1 million in actual damages and $5 million in punitive damages.”

“The statements we reported about Mr. Amberson’s potential improper handling of the Harms’ case have not proven to be true,”  KENS anchor Sarah Lucero said in an apology the station aired during the Monday 6:00 p.m. and Wednesday 6:00 and 10:00 p.m. newscasts. “We apologize to Mr. Amberson for the inaccurate and incomplete presentation the I-Team reports represented about him.”

The San Antonio Express News reports Curtis Cukjati, Amberson’s attorney, said the two parties had reached a settlement, but wouldn’t say if it involved money.

“All I can say is the matter has been resolved to the parties’ satisfaction,” Cukjati said

Triston Sanders, the station’s executive news director, declined to comment.

Conger, who left KENS last month to become a spokesman for Christus Santa Rosa Hospital — New Braunfels, said he didn’t learn of the retraction until Wednesday morning.

“I’m not really at liberty to talk about it,” Conger said. “I actually had nothing to do with it since I moved on.” He said his departure from KENS was unrelated to the stories and that he had been conducting a job search for more than a year.

Retracting a story is rare for a news outlet, according to Gilbert D. Martinez, assistant director of the School of Journalism and Mass Communications at Texas State University in San Marcos.

“The fact that they are running it multiple times, I guess you could say it sort of speaks to just how much remorse they have over what’s happened,” Martinez said.

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