June 14, 2017
Cusipag, the haughty Editor/Publisher of Balita tabloid who is on record as saying she could publish anything and one would not be able to do anything about it, has been dealt a crushing and humiliating blow – 21 days in prison.
“For the offence of criminal contempt of court, I sentence you Teresita Cusipag, also known as Tess Cusipag, to a term of twenty-one (21) days in provincial reformatory to commence immediately”, Justice Fredrick L. Myers pronounced.
After the sentencing, the feisty and unrepentant tabloid publisher apparently broke down in tears sobbing on the shoulders of one of her supporters. As per standard procedure, we assume she was later handcuffed and escorted by police to a prisoner transport vehicle waiting at the back of the courthouse. Sources say she is now languishing in a provincial jail located somewhere in Milton, Ontario.
This outcome should provide a measure of vindication and relief to all those who Cusipag and her cohort, Romeo (Romy) Marquez, have maliciously attacked both in print and online.
Highlights of the sentence:
(1) Cusipag and Balita knowingly and deliberately violated an order prohibiting them from repeating directly or indirectly, expressly or by innuendo, falsehoods that have been ruled libelous in the Enverga v. Balita Media Inc. et al defamation case which was decided against them in July 2016.
(2) Despite having been invited, encouraged and given an opportunity to “purge” their contempt, Cusipag and Balita, in J. Myer’s own words, “chose not to file an affidavit explaining their contempt, apologizing, demonstrating their respect for the orders of this court, or evincing an intention to refrain from repeating their contemptuous misconduct in future. They arrive for sentencing unrepentant.”
(3) Even though she was present at an earlier sentencing hearing on June 2, 2017, Cusipag did not personally offer an apology and declined the opportunity to swear and give evidence of her remorse or other mitigating factors, which J. Myers took as an unwillingness to recognize the court’s authority and to obey its orders.
(4) J. Myers noted that on March 14, 2017, after the criminal contempt conviction, Cusipag posted on the internet that she has made a vow not to give up and reiterated yet again that her allegations, which she admitted were not true during discovery and were found by the defamation case judge to be false, were true.
(5) J. Myers noted a Court of Appeal decision which agreed with the lower court’s finding that Cusipag was not engaging in political speech but in a personal quest to destroy Sen. Enverga’s reputation by spreading untrue statements about him while admitting in a court proceeding that she knows the statements to be untrue. The court made it clear that there was “nothing altruistic, political, community-minded, or protected about what Ms. Cusipag is doing”.
(6) J. Myers declined Enverga lawyer’s suggestions for leniency, saying leniency was not appropriate because there were no mitigating factors to justify it. J. Myers wrote that had the defendants made clear statements recognizing the court’s authority and pledged to comply with the court’s orders in future, he might have given only a token sentence for the defendants’ transgressions.
(7) J. Myers noted that the punitive damages previously award did not deter Cusipag but only prompted her to transfer her house to her son and her 2 condo units to others, indicating that she wanted to avoid the court’s judgment rather than comply with it. J. Myers concluded that “all that remains available to try to compel obedience with the court’s order is incarceration”.
(8) Since Balita Media Inc. and Balita Newspaper cannot be sentenced to jail, they were sentenced to a fine of $5,000 each, which Cusipag is jointly and severally liable to pay.
(9) Cusipag and the Balita entities are jointly and severally liable for Enverga’s costs of the contempt proceedings on a “full indemnity” basis.
(10) The penalties do not constitute a release from the injunctive order. The defendants remain bound by the order both in letter and spirit.
In the concluding paragraph, J. Myers admonished Cusipag: “It is the court’s true wish that you learn from this experience that you are bound by the law and you must comply with court orders even if you do not agree with them. The court will compel obedience to its orders and punish disobedience. The protection of the rule of law must be a paramount concern of society.”
Among the violations cited by Justice Myers in convicting Cusipag and Balita of criminal contempt earlier in March 2017 was Cusipag’s October 16, 2016 email forwarding to third parties and at least one senator colleague of Enverga an exchange between her and a GlobalLink correspondent in which she repeated and re-asserted the truth of the same falsehoods that were ruled libelous in the defamation case and were the subject of the injunction. In the exchange, Cusipag inferred that the reason she lost the defamation case was partly due to an unseen hand of a conspiracy between Justice Lederman and Enverga’s lawyer Howard Winkler who she described were “both jews.”
Another violation cited by the court was a December 3, 2016 email by Tess Cusipag to certain recipients attaching an article written by her cohort, Romeo (alias Romy) Marquez, in which the allegations related to the KCCC fundraiser found by J. Lederman to be false and defamatory were republished.
By our tally, the total monetary liability incurred by Cusipag resulting from the defamation case, the subsequent appeal and the contempt of court proceeding is $366,000. This does not include pre-judgment interest in the defamation case and legal costs still to be awarded with respect to the contempt proceeding.
At least three other defamation lawsuits against Cusipag, Balita and Romy Marquez are still pending in Ontario Superior Court.
Sources say Sen. Enverga was absent during the sentencing. On the other hand, several Cusipag supporters were present including Marlene Mogado, a Catholic school board trustee.