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Regional News
Trial champ.

October 9, 2002 --

One! Two! Three! Nicole Bass is out.

A Brooklyn federal jury delivered a choke slam to the woman bodybuilder, returning a verdict that trashed her sexual-harassment suit against her former promoters.

"I think this kind of stuff belittles all those valid arguments by women," jury foreman Pete Sutich said outside of court after the verdict vindicating World Wrestling Entertainment and its chairman Vince McMahon.

"Her and many of her witnesses, we felt were not telling the truth," he said.

WWE executives and their lawyers hugged each other and applauded after the verdict was announced, but their feelings weren't all warm and fuzzy.

"I think Nicole Bass miscalculated," said defense lawyer Jerry McDevitt. "I think she thought the WWE would buckle under. We don't pay blackmail and we won't ever."

"We gave Nicole an opportunity," said Linda McMahon, the wife of WWE head Vince McMahon.

"I regret the lawsuit, and it never would have happened if we hadn't hired her."

But outside court, Bass refused to admit defeat, calling the verdict a "personal victory."

"I stood up for women. I stood up to a huge corporation. I stuck to my guns," said the deep-voiced, 6-foot-4 grappler, who said she lost 16 pounds from her usual 230-pound frame during the trial. "It was very much an ordeal for me, to have to go through this process."

McDevitt responded, "Nicole's trying to put lipstick on a corpse. That's all she's doing."

Steven Lombardi, a wrestler named in the suit, said, "I don't feel tarnished at all. Look who made the allegations."

During the colorful three-week trial, the eight jurors had ringside seats as a parade of top wrestlers took the stand - their testimony punctuated with videotaped matches and references to moves like the "hair mare" and "power slam."

WWE lawyers harped on Bass's lack of talent and personality, claiming she'd been hired only for her "unusual look."

Jurors came to their verdict after 41/2 hours, rejecting Bass's claims that male wrestlers and managers regularly invaded the women's locker room during her five months working for the WWE in 1999 and that Lombardi groped her on an airplane headed to England.

The jury included at least one wrestling fan, who admitted, "it was tough not being able to ask [the wrestlers] for their autographs."

But Cliff Hasey, 44, of Long Island, said as soon as it was over, he got a signature from Lombardi, a k a The Brooklyn Brawler, that said, "To Cliff. Thanks."

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