FORT WORTH, Texas, June 16 (UPI) -- An ex-intern at a Texas bat sanctuary has been ordered to pay $6 million damages after a judge said she defamed the sanctuary and its owner.
Tarrant County District Judge William Brigham said Mary Cummins' defamation of Bat World Sanctuary in Mineral Wells and its president, Amanda Lollar, was "intentional, malicious and egregious" and ordered Cummins to pay $3 million in compensatory damages and $3 million in punitive damages, Bat World said in a release.
The Los Angeles woman said she "no money whatsoever" and intends to appeal the award.
Cummins accepted an internship at Bat World in 2010 but left early because she became "dissatisfied" with the internship program, the release said.
A lawsuit against Cummins said she began posting "horrific allegations of animal cruelty against Amanda Lollar on the Internet."
The release said Cummins had accused Lollar of performing "illegal surgeries" on bats without anesthesia, allowing interns to be bitten repeatedly by rabid bats, giving human rabies vaccinations to interns, and possessing and distributing controlled substances without a federal license.
Cummins, the release said, filed reports of animal cruelty and complaints with numerous wildlife and conservation organizations and authorities.
"Every agency that investigated Bat World Sanctuary found Cummins' complaints to be completely without merit," the release said.
But the suit said after the complaints were dismissed, Cummins continued to say on the Internet her claims were "under investigation," the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.
The newspaper said Cummins said her "reports are 100 percent the truth. I believe [the suit] was malicious and frivolous." She also said not all her complaints to authorities about Lollar were cleared.
Lollar said defamatory statements about her were "more devastating than you can imagine," KDAF-TV, Dallas, reported.
"I have spent 20 years trying to build compassion for this maligned species, and it was almost ruined in a few clicks of the mouse," she said.
Brigham also ordered Cummins to pay $10,000 for breach of her contract with Bat World and $176,700 in attorney's fees.