Foretich claims 'A Mother's Right' movie libels him

November 29, 1992|By Mathew Paust | Mathew Paust,Newport News Daily Press

GLOUCESTER, Va. -- Eric Foretich sat stiffly in his chair occasionally drumming his fingers on the table beside him, as he watched actors in a TV movie portraying him and the people who were closest to him during the most traumatic years of his life.

Mr. Foretich, 50, had driven several hours from his dental clinic in McLean, Va., to Gloucester County to watch a videotape of "A Mother's Right: The Elizabeth Morgan Story," which airs tonight on ABC. And he was decidedly unhappy.

Dr. Foretich said the movie libels him and will prompt him to sue ABC if the network does not either change or cancel it.

The movie is based on the protracted, high-profile custody war between Dr. Foretich and Dr. Morgan, his ex-wife, over their now 10-year-old daughter, Hilary.

Their struggle attracted worldwide attention when Dr. Morgan, a plastic surgeon, spent more than two years in a Washington, D.C., jail rather than allow a court-ordered visit by Hilary with Dr. Foretich, whom she accused of molesting the child when Hilary was 2.

After a special act of Congress caused Dr. Morgan's release from jail in September 1989, Dr. Foretich learned that Hilary had been spirited out of the country by Dr. Morgan's parents, first to ++ England, then to New Zealand, where the girl now lives with Dr. Morgan.

Dr. Foretich, an oral surgeon, never was charged with criminal wrongdoing and has steadfastly maintained that Dr. Morgan's accusations are false.

He gave up his fight, resigned to not seeing his daughter until she's an adult, only after the New Zealand courts granted custody to Dr. Morgan.

Dr. Morgan's New Zealand lawyer, Austin Forbes, said his client would not comment on the movie. He said that she is refusing interviews for fear of jeopardizing her standing with the New Zealand courts.

David Westin, ABC's general counsel, admitted in a letter to Dr. Foretich that "the motion picture relates events from Dr. Morgan's perspective," but he said ABC concluded it was not the "one-sided distortion you describe."

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