Artist, Marques Johnson, professionally known as “Andre Roxx” has a libel (written defamation) suit against TMZ, its partners and others, for an article it posted on April 16, 2014 identifying Roxx as the man who cut off his own penis and jumped over a balcony in a failed suicide attempt. Only, Roxx was not the individual who performed this act. Andre Johnson, professionally known as “Christ Bearer” was actually the individual who cut off his penis and attempted suicide. Both individuals are African American, male, musicians, associated with the Wu-Tang Clan, and have the same last name, but other than that, they share no similarities. They do not resemble one another in any way and the age disparity between the two is at least a decade. Interestingly enough, Roxx was in prison when Bearer attempted to take his own life, and Roxx had to be placed in protective custody because of the negative attention he began to receive from the news.
TMZ did correct the story and rewrote it with Bearer’s information, but not before the incorrect news with Roxx’s name and photo attached to it, spread throughout the U.S. and internationally. BET picked up the story immediately, along with USA Today, Extra, Radio One, New York Daily News, Urban Daily, iHeartRadio and Barstool Sports, which looped Viacom, Gannett and Warner Bros. and iHeartMedia into the lawsuit as co-defendants. To date, TMZ is the only defendant that has corrected the story. Note however, that TMZ did not issue a retraction of the story, as would normally be the protocol in these types of situations; instead it simply corrected the story. The other defendants have continued to display their incorrect information with no retraction, correction, deletion or modification of any sort. There were a few other media outlets that aired the false story, but they are not named as defendants because they corrected their stories after TMZ and presumably their coverage probably wasn’t as large (nor their pockets that deep).
Since Roxx’s release from prison, he has been unable to reestablish himself in the music industry because of the backlash from the misidentification. Promoters and disc jockeys have shied away from him, claiming that the risk is to great for them to book him for anything because of the negative publicity. Because the public was not really made aware that Roxx was misidentified, in their eyes Roxx is Bearer, and they didn’t want to risk the negative implications that could possibly come along with the press. Even the Wu-Tang Clan has publicly disassociated themselves with Roxx.
Roxx toured with members of the Wu-Tang clan, reportedly making $2000 – $4500 per live performance. Since his release from prison, he has not been invited to tour and has lost out on his touring revenue. Roxx also claims he is forced to disguise himself in public because everyone thinks he cut off his own penis and tried to kill himself. Roxx is seeking compensatory and punitive damages from all defendants.
Lerae Funderburg, Esq. is the Managing Attorney at Funderburg Law, LLC, an Atlanta based entertainment law firm. Lerae has almost 10 years of experience in entertainment law in both music law and film law. As an entertainment lawyer and blogger, Lerae keeps her viewers and subscribers up to date with entertainment law news, especially in the areas of music, copyright law and trademark law. If you are local to Atlanta, call and set up a consultation! She would love to hear from you!