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Gold Medalist Tianna Madison Sued By Parents for Libel

In a sad story,  Jo Ann and Robert Madison filed a libel, slander and defamation lawsuit against their London Olympics gold-medal-winning daughter, Tianna Madison, accusing her of defaming them with false statements and allegations.

The complaint, naming Tianna Madison and her husband, John Bartoletta, as defendants, states that since March of this year, the couple has repeatedly made or had published false and defamatory statements about the Madisons to various third parties, including media outlets in Ohio and Florida.

The lawsuit details allegations that Tianna Madison wrongly alleged that her parents mismanaged her finances, and that they knowingly allowed a boy who had molested her in the past to enter their home in her presence.

Tianna Madison, who won a gold medal after the team broke the 4×100 world record, and John Bartoletta reside in Florida and returned there after the games in London.

Brian Butler, spokesman for Tianna Madison and Bartoletta, said the couple was not going to comment publicly on the accusations.

“This should be a time for not just Tianna, but her family to celebrate all she has gone through and her winning a gold medal,” he said. “That is what she is going to focus on at this time.”

Butler said Tianna Madison is very much focused on continuing her athletic career and the programs she has started to help inspire young girls.

“And, I think, she is trying to take some time to enjoy the fact that she won an Olympic gold medal,” he said.

Attorney Scott Schooler, who is representing Madison’s parents, said that despite filing the lawsuit, the couple want to reconcile with their daughter.

“They are not seeking any financial gain,” he said. “At the end of the day, they would like to restore their relationship with their daughter. Beyond that, I am not going to comment on the parameters of any possible resolution.”

And while Schooler said the couple is not seeking money, the lawsuit does include the boilerplate language that often is in civil suits — asking for compensatory damages in excess of $25,000 and punitive damages in excess of $25,000 plus court costs and fees.

Schooler said the Madisons see the lawsuit as a way of getting their daughter’s attention.

“It was a wake-up call for Tianna to really look at the entire situation and look at what exactly is going on,” he said. “Hopefully, she will realize there is some importance in having a relationship with her parents.”

Schooler said the Madisons did assist their daughter with her finances but stopped years ago. And, in regards to the claim the couple let their daughter’s molester into the family home, Schooler said the Madisons have no facts that she was ever molested.

“But secondly, assuming that fact is true, the parents had no knowledge this had ever happened,” he said. “She did not disclose this to her parents.”

Recently, the athlete began telling media outlets of the incident without providing details. It was referenced in an online article that was featured on CNN.com. In the article, which highlights her post-Olympic plans, she said the sexual assault happened but is not her sob story.

Jo Ann and Robert Madison have long maintained they are private people, but the lawsuit offers a very public view into the family dynamic.

“Throughout her childhood, and into adulthood, Robert Madison and Jo Ann Madison have provided Tianna Madison with a loving, supportive and generous environment, that has enabled her to achieve success as a sprinter, including her obtaining a gold medal in the 2012 Olympic Games, as well as achieving success in other athletic endeavors,” the complaint said.

But, they contend, all of that changed March 17.

According to the complaint, on that day Bartoletta indicated for the first time to the Madisons that their daughter was planning to sue them for mismanaging her finances and abusing their power of attorney. The complaint said Bartoletta had hired a bodyguard to protect his wife.

Jo Ann and Robert Madison were shocked by the allegations, which they contend were unfounded and untrue. No such lawsuit has ever been filed.

After that call, the Madisons allege in the lawsuit that Bartoletta or their daughter would call them repeatedly with accusations of improprieties.

The complaint said Tianna Madison and her husband were shopping a story and prewritten article in regards to the athlete’s life with her parents around to several media outlets, including the Cleveland Plain Dealer, which eventually ran an exclusive blog written by Tianna Madison leading up to her Olympic debut.

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