Photographer Darryl Wilkins has reportedly filed a lawsuit against celebrity Hilary Duff and talk show host Wendy Williams, accusing the two of defamation by suggesting that Wilkins could be a child predator after Duff filmed Wilkins photographing her son’s football game in a public park.
It all began back in February 2020 when Duff noticed Wilkins at her 7-year-old son’s football match. Duff started recording Williams with her smartphone camera as she approached and confronted the photographer.
She then posted a clip of the confrontation to her millions of followers on Instagram with the caption: “Paparazzi shooting KIDS. Go ‘practice’ your photography on ADULTS! Creep! Laws need to change! This is stalking minors! Disgusting!”
“Can you stop taking pictures of the kids please?” Duff is heard on camera asking Wilkins.
“It’s legal,” Wilkins replies. “I’m taking pictures. I’m practicing photography. I’m not here to scare you or anything like that. Your paranoia is unwarranted.”
“It’s just an uncomfortability factor that these are 7-year-old children and you don’t have a child here,” Duff counters.
After Duff’s video went viral, Williams weighed in on her top-ranked syndicated talk show , The Wendy Williams Show. Williams played Duff’s clip to her audience and weighed in.
“Creepy to me,” Williams says after sharing the clip. “Sir, if you’re practicing photography, why wouldn’t you go into a park and take pictures of birds and butterflies?”
In his lawsuit, which was first reported by The Blast, Wilkins insists he was simply testing his camera gear by shooting sports photography and that Duff defamed him by publicly accusing him of “reprehensible and despicable conduct including by innuendo that he was a child predator.”
Williams then repeated the defamatory claims on her TV show, the suit says.
Wilkins argues in the lawsuit that Duff made defamatory “false statements because Wilkins is not a pedophile or child predator and was attempting to take photographs as a photographer and not as a paparazzi or stalker or with mal intent or evil wrongdoing.”
The photographer is asking the court to award general, specific, and punitive damages for the harm he received from he slander.
As of this writing, Duff’s original Instagram video has been viewed over 2.2 million times and William’s clip on YouTube has around 200,000 views. Both clips remain available online.
Update: The Wendy Williams Show clip has since been set to Private on YouTube.
Update on 2/23/21: This article originally stated the Duff’s son was playing soccer. He was playing football, and the text has been updated to reflect this.
Image credits: Hilary Duff portrait in header illustration by VOGUE Taiwan and licensed under CC BY 3.0