By JAY REEVES, Associated Press
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — The mother of Natalee Holloway, a U.S. teenager who vanished during her senior trip to Aruba in 2005, is seeking at least $35 million from the producers of what she contends was a fake television documentary about the case.
Beth Holloway said in a federal lawsuit filed Friday that the deception surrounding “The Disappearance of Natalee Holloway” was so complete she was even tricked into providing a DNA sample to match against what producers claimed were remains that could be those of her long-missing daughter.
The whole show was a ruse that subjected Beth Holloway to “agonizing weeks” of uncertainty and waiting that “completely and utterly destroyed” her, according to the suit filed in Birmingham.
Holloway, a schoolteacher in north Alabama, is seeking $10 million in compensation and $25 million in punitive damages against Oxygen Media, an arm of NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment, and the Los Angeles-based Brian Graden Media.
Neither company responded to emails sent Monday seeking comment on the lawsuit. Court records show attorneys have not filed documents answering the allegations.
The website TMZ first reported the lawsuit.
Natalee Holloway, who lived in suburban Birmingham, was 18 when she was last seen during a trip with classmates to Aruba. Her mysterious disappearance after a night with friends at a nightclub sparked years of news coverage, particularly in the tabloid and true-crime media.
No remains were ever found, and the Dutch teen suspected in her death, Joran van der Sloot, is now imprisoned for the slaying of another young woman killed in 2010.
The six-episode series aired last year by Oxygen included the discovery of what were supposedly remains that could be those of Natalee. But the lawsuit claims producers knew that bone fragments featured in the production weren’t linked to Natalee before supposed testing produced inconclusive results.
Rather than being a documentary or true investigation, the show was a “scripted, pre-planned farce calculated to give the impression of real-time events,” the suit contends.
Natalee Holloway’s father Dave Holloway participated in the program and contacted Beth Holloway seeking a DNA sample for use in testing, the complaint said. Dave Holloway isn’t listed among the defendants, and he did not respond to an email seeking comment.
A judge acting at Dave Holloway’s request declared Natalee Holloway legally dead six years ago.