Judge dismisses El Cajon councilman's countersuit against pageant contestants

After Bessmon “Ben” Kalasho was sued for fraud, harassment and defamation, the El Cajon councilman counter-sued his accusers in August, saying he had been victimized by their unfounded allegations.

A judge has now dismissed the cross-complaint, which Kalasho filed against two participants in his for-profit beauty pageant and a business owner who refused to allow a Kalasho campaign sign in his restaurant.

In a 10-page ruling issued Dec. 21, San Diego Superior Court Judge Timothy Taylor said Kalasho could not establish any probability of prevailing if the case went to trial.

“They offer no evidence or declarations in opposition to meet their burden to establish even minimal merit,” the judge wrote. “The (countersuit) is not verified and thus is not evidence to demonstrate a probability of success.”

Kalasho said Tuesday he would appeal the decision, which he said was lost because his lawyer was prevented from properly addressing the matter in court filings due to injuries from a car accident in 2016.

“The judge had to rule to dismiss due to the lack of opposition,” Kalasho wrote in an email. “Our new retained counsel is ready to take over the case and is confident that we will prevail in court and we look forward to trial.”

Attorney Jimmie Parker, who represents the 3 Brothers Taco Shop and beauty pageant contestants Zhala Tawfiq and Paris Kargar, said in a statement that he was grateful for the ruling, along with attorney fees and other costs awarded by the court.

“Needless to say, we are pleased that the judge has seen Councilman Kalasho's countersuit for what it was, a frivolous and retaliatory action that has now been put to bed,” Parker said. “We will continue to litigate this matter in court in order to bring justice to the victims of the councilman's outrageous and disturbing conduct.”

Kalasho, who also has run a for-profit chamber of commerce and presented holiday-themed parties at area hotels, was accused using fake social-media profiles to allege that people got sick from eating at 3 Brothers after the owners refused to promote his 2016 council campaign.

He also was accused of placing Tawfiq’s face onto pictures of nude women online after a dispute over her obligations to being named Miss Middle East USA.

Parker filed computer records and other evidence with the court indicating that the fraudulent and defamatory posts were accessed from inside Kalasho’s home. The councilman told U-T Watchdog that his internet address may have been compromised by the plaintiffs themselves.

The original lawsuit is scheduled for trial in August.

Plaintiffs made a series of allegations against Kalasho, including a claim that he demanded sex in exchange for awarding the pageant crown.

“Surprisingly, after what Plaintiff Kargar allegedly experienced, including a supposed offer of sexual intercourse for the crown, she later attended a function hosted by both defendant Bessmon Kalasho and defendant Jessica Kalasho,” the counterclaim stated, referring to his wife.

The counterclaim also stated, “Plaintiff Kargar stated that she was shocked, appalled and humiliated when Defendant Bessmon Kalasho stated during a particular pageant rehearsal, ‘Your boobs are moving too much. Do it again.’ Plaintiff Kargar took this comment completely out of context and severely overreacted.”

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jeff.mcdonald@sduniontribune.com (619) 293-1708 @sdutMcDonald

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