$10,000 reward for St. Anne’s letter writer

Katharine Almy, the local woman who sued John Grisham and his St. Anne's-Belfield colleagues for emotional distress, announced today that she is now offering a $10,000 reward for evidence leading to the identity of the letter writer whose missives stirred up millions of dollars in legal fees and years of litigation. Almy, once accused of penning the letters, has set up a website, TheInnocentWoman.com, "My story of injustice in my hometown."

And she's ready to head back to court seeking $1 million plus $350,000 in punitive damages in a case filed seven years ago.

The website includes the first published samples of the anonymous letters that started in 1996 to Donna Swanson, wife of St. Anne's development director Alan Swanson, and seemed designed to break up the Swanson marriage.

Copies of nine envelopes addressed to Swanson are posted showing almost as many different styles of handwriting. One letter calls the Swansons the "Cleavers" of their neighborhood, "the perfect family." A card mentions "Dazed and Confused," the 1993 Richard Linklater stoner flick about high school students.

Almy attorney Mike Lieberman doesn't rule out the possibility the letters were a student prank. "Dazed and Confused– it's a movie that older people like me wouldn't know about," he says.

Almy makes a personal plea to the anonymous author, and despite an Grisham-aided investigation that once pointed at her, once again declares her innocence.
"You cannot imagine how frightening it has been to live with the trauma of being falsely accused of writing these horrible letters," Almy writes on her website, "especially when I didn’t even know Mrs. Swanson– and to come under attack by a man as famous and powerful as John Grisham."

Her case started as an $11 million lawsuit and has been in and out of court since 2000. It was tossed out of Albemarle Circuit Court in July 2005, but the Supreme Court of Virginia overturned that decision in January, breathing new life into the long-running case.

The Supreme Court ruling caught the attention of 178 newspapers, and galvanized the decision to offer compensation, says Lieberman.

"We'd always had in the back of our mind to offer a reward," he says. "Maybe people over the past few years have let their guard down and are more casual talking about it."

Almy has hired two former FBI agents. "We're hopeful," says Lieberman. "I think the landscape changed after the Supreme Court decision."

Tipsters have until September 15 to try to collect the reward.


This is ludicrous and she shouldn't be tying up the courts with hopes of making money off it. Just move on with your life.

Going into any school personal files is outrageous. Katherine you are a brave person. Hope you
find the letter writer. He should be persecuted to the fulest extent of the law.

Recklessly tossing out accusations without having substantive and objective proof is comtemptiable manners. Couple that with invading a private school file during an unofficial investigation and you have behavior that borders on the
criminal. I'm amazed that this matter has dragged on for as long as it has. If an ordinary citizen instead of a celebrity had accessed private school files to further their own goals would this matter still be an open issue?

You go Katherine Almy,there is an angel out that will let the truth be known. You are a criminal and alot of people should be proud of you for fighting for the truth. the truth will prevail

I did not mean to say you are a criminal, I could not see the whole screen. I mean to say and write you are not a criminal. Sorry if I hurt you, it was a typing error.

My friend Katherine is an honest & dedicated woman, who has helped women AND men, who are victims of domestic violence. She is a devoted & loving mother & wife... She has been an asset to our community & a help to many. I know how her life was turned upside down for far too many years now, in the attempt to clear herself of these ridiculous charges. It has taken a hard toll on her in many ways. She has not backed down though,despite the "fame" of her accuser. I applaud her determination & stand firmly in my support of her.

I think it is great that that you continue to presue this issue. Your privacy, by entering into school records have been violated and not to mention all of the distress that this has caused you and your family from these false accusations.Just because he is a high profile person doesn't excuse him from his actions.You are great person that gives so much of herself to others and her community. I wish you all the best in your legal battles and hope that it is a successful outcome.