Handwriting expert gets settlement in JonBenet
By Peter Dujardin 247-4749 October 19, 2007
A Hampton resident gets a settlement from Simon & Schuster
in a copyright infringement suit involving her handwriting
analysis. Cina Wong was surprised late last year when colleagues
told her that handwriting analysis she had done for the JonBenet
Ramsey case was being discussed on the Bill O'Reilly show.
Michelle Dresbold, the author of "Sex, Lies and Handwriting,"
was on the show touting her new book, and taking credit for
Wong's analysis, Wong said.
Wong, of Hampton, drove to the Border's bookstore at Patrick
Henry Mall in Newport News. She found the book, and began
flipping through it. Sure enough, there was Wong's work —
with no mention of Wong.
"You read the chapter and it starts showing my exhibits,"
she said. "I almost fainted in the store."
So Wong sued publisher Simon & Schuster, part of the CBS
Corp., as well as Dresbold and a co-author, James H. Kwalwasser,
in U.S. District Court in Norfolk in March, alleging copyright
Wong has now received a cash settlement from Simon & Schuster,
and two other promises: Future printings of the book wouldn't
include her handwriting report, and a starburst emblem on
the book's jacket with the words, "With explosive details
about the JonBenet Ramsey ransom note," will be removed.
"It's been a tough fight for me considering Simon &
Schuster is a large, well-funded conglomerate," she said.
The trial was set to begin in less than a month, she said,
and the settlement check cleared Wednesday.
Wong declined to say Thursday how much money she got. Though
she wanted the settlement to be non-confidential, she wasn't
sure if the cash amount was public. Her attorney, Chris Abel
with the Norfolk firm of Troutman Sanders, was out of town
and did not return a phone call Thursday.
According to its Web site, Simon & Schuster has 1,500
employees and placed 111 titles on the New York Times best-seller
list in 2006. That includes 16 No.1 best sellers.
The company will be rewriting the contested chapter, will
remove the starburst emblem, and "we did make a token
payment to her," said Adam Rothberg, a spokesman for
the book publisher. "We continue to believe this lawsuit
had no merit. But in the interest of moving on, we opted for
a settlement without making any admission of liability or
Wong said she got involved in the JonBenet Ramsey case when
a journalist named Chris Wolf sued John and Patsy Ramsey,
arguing that a book they wrote titled "A Death of Innocence"
wrongfully accused him of killing JonBenet.
Wong was hired to do work for Wolf's civil suit.
Her analysis concluded that it was "highly probable"
that Patsy Ramsey wrote the ransom note. She said there are
over 243 points of similarity between a sample of Patsy Ramsey's
writings and the ransom notes. "There are so many unique
similarities between both writings."
Ramsey, who steadfastly denied she had anything to do with
JonBenet's death, died of cancer in June 2006.
"Sex, Lies and Handwriting," authored by Dresbold,
a handwriting expert herself, and Kwalwasser, carries the
subtitle, "A Top Expert Reveals the Secrets Hidden in
The book includes one chapter on the Ramsey case. The authors
don't mention where they got the handwriting exhibits in that
section. In the back of the book, the authors list court filings
in the Ramsey case as one of the book's resources.
But Wong said they didn't actually get the reports from the
court filings — which were supposed to have been sealed —
but from a Web site that had somehow gotten them and posted
them. Either way, Wong said, they should have credited her
by name, since "I was the one who created those exhibits."
On the Bill O'Reilly show and elsewhere, Wong said, Dresbold
talked as if she did the analysis. At one point on the O'Reilly
show, Dresbold said: "And then what I did was I gave
the reader Patsy Ramsey's handwriting, and step by step I
compared it" to the ransom note. "You can go through
letter for letter, word for word, and you'll see unusual connections."