Author Pat Conroy’s stepdaughter sues publishers for outing sexual abuse

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Emily Conroy says details about abuse she allegedly suffered as a child was published in books about her stepfather.

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PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The stepdaughter of Pat Conroy, a well-known American author, is suing two authors and two publishing companies for outing her sexual abuse by her biological father without seeking her consent. 

Emily Conroy filed the lawsuit in Portland’s U.S. District Court for invasion of privacy, intentional infliction of emotional distress and injunctive relief on Feb. 25, 2021 and is demanding $15 million in damages from the defendants. She’s suing Michael Mewshaw, Counterpoint Press, Bernie Schein, and Skyhorse Publishing, Inc. 

Emily Conroy said her private information was published in two books that were released in 2019: “The Lost Prince: A Search for Pat Conroy” and Schein’s “Pat Conroy: Our Lifelong Friendship.” 

According to the lawsuit, Emily Conroy’s parents divorced when she was young and her mother later married novelist Pat Conroy, who’s known for writing “The Great Santini,” “The Prince of Tides,” and “The Lords of Discipline.” 

Emily Conroy said for many years when she was young, her biological father repeatedly raped and sexually abused her. She eventually confided in a therapist and her parents about the abuse and her father, Dr. Alan Fleischer, was indicted in August 1986 on one count of child molestation in DeKalb County, Georgia. However, Fleischer was never extradited from Arizona to Georgia and was never prosecuted for the crime he faced. 

The lawsuit says several newspapers published the allegations against Fleischer in the late 1980s, but none of them named or identified Emily Conroy as the victim of his crimes. 

Emily lived a private life and intentionally sought to keep her family history and her own history of sexual abuse out of the public eye, according to the lawsuit. However, after Pat Conroy died in 2016, people who knew the author began writing books about him, including Mewshaw and Schein. 

The lawsuit says both Mewshaw and Schein wrote about their personal relationships and fall-outs with the author Pat Conroy. Both books name Emily Conroy as the victim of Fleischer’s abuse and give graphic details of the abuse. 

Emily Conroy said neither the authors nor the publishers sought her permission to reveal the private information about her abuse. 

Emily Conroy said she’s suffered severe physical and emotional distress since the books were released. She believes the information published in the book will cause irreparable harm to her reputation and will continue to cause her trauma. 

In addition to the $15 million Emily Conroy is seeking in the lawsuit, she is also asking the court to prohibit any future sales and distribution of the two books. 

In a statement, Emily Conroy said, “The reason for the lawsuit is partially due to all of the brave women, who have stepped forward and had their voices heard. That is why, in this day and age, I find it hard to believe that anyone would write about a nine-year-old girl’s trauma and not even get her permission to do so.”

KOIN 6 News also reached out to Counterpoint Press and Skyhorse Publishing, Inc. for comment, but did not receive responses.

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