As Prozac Girl on the controversial, syndicated “Star & Buc Wild Morning Show,” Keysha Whitaker often had to deal with sophomoric abuse thrown at her. But when it came to being spit at, Whitaker drew the line. That cost Whitaker her job, she claims.
As a result, Whitaker, who according to court papers lives on Avalon Drive in Milford, filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit claiming intentional infliction of emotional distress, assault, defamation, and violation of the Americans with Disability Act. Her on-air character, Prozac Girl, was based on her real-life bout with depression.
U.S. District Judge Janet C. Hall rejected Clear Channel Broadcasting’s request to dismiss the case against the company; Troi Torain, better known as hip-hop shock jock DJ Star; and Miguel Candelaria, the show’s producer. The judge listened to the two sides argue their cases for about an hour before ruling from the bench. Hall dismissed the assault charge after finding the suit claims only an oral threat was made and that Star did not actually attempt to spit on her.
However, Hall said Bryan Carmody, Whitaker’s lawyer, could resurrect that claim if he can show Torain did attempt to spit on his client.
The syndicated show began broadcasting on Clear Channel’s WPPH-FM 104.1 in Hartford in April 2004. More recently, it called WWPR-FM Power 105.1 in New York home. But Torain’s actions led to Clear Channel pulling the show from the air and dropping its $4 million Star from the payroll.
On that day, Torain made on- the-air comments about the 4-year-old daughter of DJ Envy, a rival morning host on Hot 97, which once broadcast Torain’s show. DJ Envy’s real name is Rashawn Casey.
Torain maintained his comments were in response to earlier ones made against his mother by Casey.
On May 13, 2006, Torain was arrested on charges of endangering the welfare of a child as a result of his comments. The charge carries a maximum 2-year sentence. He was released on $2,000 bond.
Whitaker was just one of a number of characters on the show. Others included Buc Wild, Torain’s real-life half-brother; “White Trash” Helene, from Hamden; and “Chris the Queer,” the show’s gay newsman.
In February 2004, Clear Channel hired Whitaker to play the role of Prozac Girl at a salary of $60,000 a year, the suit claims. Additionally, she was to be paid a $20,000 lump sum each time the show was syndicated to a new locale, according to the suit.
The show began airing on 104.1 WPHH in Hartford in April 2004.
During the May 24, 2004, broadcast, Torain spat on Candelaria and said, “all of you in here are going to get anointed with my spit,” the suit alleges.
Following the show, the suit claims, Whitaker told Candelaria she would resign if Torain insisted upon “anointing her with his saliva.”
Three days later, the suit claims, Candelaria shot a “phlegm-laden” launch at a character named “Crossover Negro Reese,” a newsman. Torain then threatened to spit on Whitaker, who again objected, the suit charges.
After the show, the suit says, Candelaria demanded a letter of resignation from Whitaker, stripped her of her office keys and walked her out of the building.
The suit further claims Torain called Whitaker after she left and told her she was fired because she “is sick,” “disabled” and has depression.
Since then, Carmody said, his client has suffered severely.
“She’s not working,” he said.
The parties in the suit could not be reached for comment Wednesday evening.
By: Michael P. Mayko