‘DWTS’ Pro Val Chmerkovskiy Is Being Sued Over a Meme
Dancing With the Stars pro Val Chmerkovskiy is being sued over a meme. Seriously.
A few weeks ago, the 29-year-old dancer posted a meme on Facebook featuring a picture of an overweight child drinking a bottle of soda, with the words "letting your kid become obese should be child abuse."
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According to TMZ, the girl in the picture, now 16, is suing Val, the original photographer, and CBS News, which also posted the image, for defamation, emotional distress, and invasion of privacy. She's asking $600k from the photographer, and $6 million apiece from Val and CBS.
The girl in the photograph has Down Syndrome, which is linked to increased risk of obesity. The lawsuit says this is why she is overweight, making this meme especially hurtful.
TMZ also reports the girl's mom contacted the dancer when he first put the post up, asking him to remove it — which he did, saying he was "truly sorry for the lack of sensitivity."
I am truly sorry for the lack of sensitivity... but on some level I have to agree. Raising a https://t.co/Le9PWd66Hq— Valentin (@iamValC) January 12, 2016
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Val has not directly responded to the lawsuit, but it's hard to imagine this meme he posted on Instagram two days ago isn't prompted by his current situation.
The Season 20 winner's fellow pro and longtime friend Sharna Burgess did share her feelings on Instagram, writing "When I have to see a good friend of mine, someone that I have known for over 10 years be accused of something so far outside of his character and what he represents all so an opportunist can make a quick $$ it infuriates me!"
While Sharna doesn't use Val's name in this post, we have to assume it's about him, unless she happens to have another good friend who devotes lots of time to children's hospitals and is going through the exact same situation right now. (Hint: she probably does not.)
All up in my feels about this one... When I have to see a good friend of mine, someone that I have known for over 10 years be accused of something so far outside of his character and what he represents all so an opportunist can make a quick $$ it infuriates me! How do I not say something! A man that openly gives love to everyone with out hesitation or discrimination, a man that spends his own time and money bringing toys to children's hospitals on holidays with no reward other than they can smile a little brighter that day. A man that has helped bring education to kids that didn't have it and literally built them a school!!!!! The same man that brings joy to sick kids all over the country and goes out of his way to make sure YOU get the best of him and leave feeling better about yourself every time. Oh that guy... That's the one she wants to sue for a laughable amount of money!?! So forget all the good things he does and forget who he actually is, she is just going to take this moment to twist his words to her own advantage and make some money by making him out to be something his not. This is ridiculous! She hasn't earned that money and she certainly doesn't deserve it. To be quite honest she missed the point completely and is now making it about something else entirely so she can get rich at his expense... She is the problem... Always was. People can be so disappointing. #jmo
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All in all, we feel badly for the girl in this meme, and agree it was probably ill-advised for the famous dancer to put it up. At the same time, it's clear he was just trying to make a point about keeping kids healthy, and didn't mean to hurt anyone — which is why he took it down right away.
We'll keep you updated as more details emerge.
Catch the Dancing With the Stars Season 22 premiere on Monday, March 21, 2016 on ABC.
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