By MARYCLAIRE DALE
Three Vietnam War veterans who sued over a documentary about Sen. John Kerry’s anti-war activities have dropped their lawsuits, leaving just one court fight pending over the 2004 film.
Filmmaker Carlton Sherwood says the withdrawal of the lawsuits shows they were frivolous complaints filed by Kerry operatives to try to block the film’s release in the final weeks of the presidential race.
"We’ve always believed that Kerry controlled these lawsuits," Sherwood said Monday.
The 42-minute film, "Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal," charges that Kerry’s actions as an anti-war activist after his tour in Vietnam harmed American POWs. It also questions the veracity of reports by some veterans about U.S. atrocities.
Sherwood continues to press his defamation suit against Kerry and campaign aide John Podesta, which charges they conspired to block the film’s release by labeling him a "disgraced journalist" and "Bush hack." The Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. canceled plans to air the full documentary on its stations before the November 2004 election.
Lawyers for Kerry and Podesta have asked a judge to toss Sherwood’s suit, arguing their actions were protected political speech.
One of the veterans who dropped his suit against Sherwood said depositions in the case threatened to take an unfair toll on family and friends. Kenneth Campbell, a University of Delaware professor who has taught a course on the Vietnam War, said he still believes the film maligns him.
"They used my image and voice from an old film to go after Kerry. I thought they painted me as a fraud," Campbell said.
Two other veterans also dropped their lawsuits, according to Sherwood’s lawyer, Robert C. Clothier. The Legal Intelligencer of Philadelphia first reported that the suits had been withdrawn.
© 2006 The Associated Press