OC Porn Star Loses Appeal for a New Trial

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Dancing with the porn star
The popular Irvine adult dance instructor who sued an Orange County woman for causing his dismissal by accusing him, a former gay pornography star, of trying to recruit her 15-year-old son into porn has lost his appeal for a new trial.

A California Court of Appeal based in Santa Ana ruled Tuesday that Gerard La Rocca's complaints about losing his civil trial are without merit and, in a second move, reversed the trial court's judgment that La Rocca doesn't owe Rhonda Meier Hanson, the defendant, attorney fees for making a series of weak claims against her.

Acting on behalf of justices Kathleen O'Leary and Eileen Moore, Justice William Rylaarsdam wrote an opinion ordering trial judge Richard W. Luesebrink to determine how much of the $150,000 defense lawyer bill must be paid by La Rocca, who'd taught at the Maple Conservatory of Dance.

Hanson wanted all of her legal bills paid, but the justices said she is entitled to a portion pertaining only to five clearly meritless allegations made by La Rocca in his lawsuit. Jurors didn't give Hanson a complete victory, voting overwhelmingly that, despite her claims otherwise, she had told Charles Maple, the conservatory's owner, that La Rocca tried to recruit her son into porn. 

Though it is a crime to involve minors in sex or porn, the jury determined that Hanson had not accused La Rocca of any criminal activity.

The jury also believed that Maple fired La Rocca not based on Hanson's "wild" claims, but because the instructor's x-rated images appeared on the Internet. 

La Rocca's lawyer--Jim Toledano, a former chairman of the Democratic Party of Orange County--wanted the justices to grant a new trial because Hanson's lawyer, Patrick J. Richard, had "tampered" with Maple, the key witness in the lawsuit, during an unethical deposition held without any plaintiff's representatives. 

The justices weren't sympathetic to any of Toledano's assertions, lecturing him that he shouldn't have skipped the crucial deposition and that Richard's aggressive tactics with the dance studio owner "is nothing more than the rough and tumble of litigation." 

Richard successfully rattled Maple to flip-flop on statements after showing him nude pictures of La Rocca, the star of Cocktail Party and several other films. 

Read our original coverage of the case HERE.

--R. Scott Moxley / OC Weekly

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