FRONT ROYAL, Va. (WDVM) — As the criminal charges continue to mount against former Front Royal Warren County Economic Development Authority executive director Jennifer McDonald, at least one of the civil cases against her has come to a close.
On Wednesday, a Warren County district court judge ruled against McDonald in County supervisor Tom Sayre’s defamation case suit against her, awarding Sayre $20,000 in damages, including $15,000 in punitive damages.
This move follows McDonald withdrawing her own defamation suit against Sayre in mid-August. Both cases stem from a series of incidents in 2017 in which McDonald allegedly fabricated criminal acts targeting her home and the EDA offices in an attempt to distract from the suspicions raised by Sayre about her actions with the EDA. To date, McDonald has been charged with 28 felonies related to her allegedly embezzling millions of dollars from the EDA.
“The judge ruled in my favor on defamation per se, and that I would’ve won on that,” Sayre said Thursday. “He also said that I won on actual malice. Being that I’m a public figure, I had to prove actual malice, that she knew the statements and her conduct with the statements was false. Plus she acted with reckless disregard for the truth. You gotta prove both those prongs and he ruled in my favor.”
Sayre adds that while he’s pleased with the outcome of the case, he’s ready to put the whole ordeal behind him and move forward as a leader in the county.
Mcdonald’s attorney did not return WDVM’s request for comment.