The Brother of JonBenet Ramsey filed a complaint of defamation of character on December 28, 2016 against the CBS Corporation, as well as other parties involved in the making of a documentary aired on the network entitled The Case of: JonBenet Ramsey, which claimed to finally solve the twenty-year-old cold case of the brutal murder of six-year-old JonBenet in her Boulder, Colorado home on December 26, 1996. Burke Ramsey alleges that CBS and the production company Critical Content intentionally left out crucial information and evidence in order to paint him as the killer of his sister.

JonBenet Ramsey was originally reported kidnapped on the morning of December 26th, 1996 by her mother, Patsy Ramsey. She was later found in the basement of her home, tied up and apparently having been tortured and eventually strangled. The case became a media frenzy, attracting attention from all around the country with everyone asking who killed JonBenet. The investigative team was never able to conclusively find the person responsible for JonBenet’s murder, causing the case to remain a mystery.

The CBS documentary The Case Of: JonBenet Ramsey claimed to finally close the decades old cold case by bringing forth “new evidence” and “new witnesses” in order to prove the Burke Ramsey was, in fact, the killer. Ramsey, however, alleges in his complaint that a book entitled Foreign Faction written by former Boulder police officer A. James Kolar was the actual basis for the documentary, and was used as a sort of script. Ramsey also outlines in the complaint the number of times that he has been dismissed or outright exonerated as a suspect in the murder of his sister.

According to the complaint, after three separate interviews by the Boulder police department, both they and the Boulder DA “publicly exonerated Burke,” and in early 1998, former Boulder police chief Mark Beckner publicly stated that “Burke was not involved in the killing of JonBenet, was not a suspect in JonBenet’s murder, and was not being looked at as a suspect.” These comments were not included in the CBS documentary, along with similar statements from the former Boulder DA in both 1999 and 2000, the special prosecutor hired to oversee the grand jury investigation in 1999, and a decision from federal judge Julie Carnes in 2003 where she stated that “the weight of the evidence is more consistent with a theory that an intruder murdered JonBenet.” None of these statements were included in the documentary.

Perhaps a crucial assertion is that, according to the complaint, “CBS has broadcast many reports regarding the exculpatory information establishing that Burke did not kill JonBenet.” If this assertion proves to be true, then CBS essentially has no plausible deniability in knowing of the evidence of Burke Ramsey’s innocence, and thus has little to no defence as to the intentionality of leaving out and not disclosing details of Ramsey’s potential innocence. In cases of defamation, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant published information they knew to be false. In a civil case such as this, the plaintiff must prove their case by a “preponderance of evidence”, or, essentially, the plaintiff must make a judge or jury 51% confident they are correct, thus making a verdict in their favor much easier to achieve than in criminal court, where arguments must be proven “beyond a reasonable doubt”.