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By Alexander C. Kaufman
Updated 10:48 p.m. PST with defense attorney's statement
A Los Angeles Superior Court judge tentatively cleared John Travolta and his attorney of libel charges Thursday in a case filed by the author of a book detailing the actor's alleged homosexual escapades in spas.
Robert Randolph, who wrote "You'll Never Spa in This Town Again" and served as a source in a 2010 Gawker story called "The Secret Sex Life of John Travolta," had sued Travolta and attorney Marty Singer, alleging personal damage inflicted by Singer's media statements in response to the publications.
After Gawker published the story, in which Randolph claimed he witnessed Travolta having oral and anal sex with men at a spa, Singer submitted a long letter to the media gossip site, alleging, in turn, that Randolph was mentally unstable.
Also read: John Travolta and His Lawyer Sued Over Spa-Encounter Book
Randolph filed a libel suit against the actor and attorney, claiming they "sought to disparage the quality of [Randolph's] property and reputation and to induce members of the public to believe [Randolph] is an unreliable source and thus abstain from purchasing" the book, according to court documents obtained by TheWrap.
The defendants made an anti-SLAPP motion, which, under California law, can throw out lawsuits deemed frivolous infringements of defendants' First Amendment rights.
Judge Malcolm Mackey said Singer's letter was not subject to a defamation claim.
"Defendant Singer has amply established that he sent the 11/23/10 letter to Gawker Media in good faith and in serious consideration of litigation," Mackey wrote in his tentative decision. "As such, the letter is privileged."
A tentative dismissal allows the loser in the case to make an oral argument against the ruling.
"Mr. Travolta will be seeking to obtain his legal fees from Robert Randolph and his lawyers," Lynda B. Goldman, the defendants' attorney who works at Singer's firm, said in a statement to TheWrap. "Notwithstanding inane tabloid fodder, two individuals who sued Mr. Travolta voluntarily dismissed their cases, and Randolph's case was dismissed by the court. Anyone else who thinks about suing Mr. Travolta should expect a similar result."
Randolph's attorney Sarah Golden did not immediately respond to calls from TheWrap for comment.
Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.
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