More strange days for conspiracy-minded radio star Art Bell.

As the paranormal-oriented talk host hinted he was ready to reveal why he dropped below the radar suddenly last year, the media appeared to drop the bomb for him--revealing that his son was pursuing a lawsuit against an HIV-positive substitute teacher who last year was convicted of sexually assaulting the teen-ager.

Saturday's Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that Art Bell IV is suing both the teacher and the Nevada school district that hired the man.

The complaint was filed in November 1998--or one month after the senior Bell declared he was quitting the airwaves because of a "threatening terrible event." (He un-quit 16 days later.)

The lawsuit says substitute teacher Brian Lepley plied Art Bell IV, then 16, and another 18-year-old with marijuana and alcohol and engaged them in sexual acts, according to the newspaper. Lepley was convicted of sexual assault in May 1998. He is serving a life prison sentence.

In the complaint, the Nye County School District is accused of negligence in hiring Lepley. The court action seeks unspecified damages.

An amended version of the lawsuit--this one naming Art Bell IV--was filed Friday in Las Vegas, thus alerting the media to the case.

On his radio show's Thursday night-Friday morning edition, Art Bell said he was going to give up the mystery of last year's disappearing act. But he didn't.

"You are going to learn a great deal about what has been going on in my life recently," Bell said, according to "My guess would be, within a week or less, you will in fact know why I left the air."

In yet another Bell controversy, the Coast to Coast A.M. host has slapped two former guests with a $60 million-plus defamation lawsuit suit.

The complaint, filed Thursday in Los Angeles, accuses Colorado-based "reverse-speech specialist" David John Oates and Robert Stephens, of Montana, of "seeking to malign, harass, cyberstalk, defame, injure and annoy" Bell by calling him "crazy"--and worse.

It accuses Stephens of spreading rumor, on Oates' own radio show, that Bell was arrested on pornography-related charges.

Additionally, the suit says several witnesses have reported hearing Oates accuse Bell of pedophilia. The court papers label both accusations as false--not to mention defamatory.

"...Oates and Stephens agreed to join together in an effort to harm Bell's public reputation and injure him personally," the lawsuit says.

Says Oates: "The whole thing's stupid."

Oates said he has no connection to Stephens, save for last April 3, when the man guested on his radio show--the appearance during which Stephens' reputed Bell trash talk went down.

"If a talk-show host can be attacked like this for the alleged actions of one of his guests, then we are all in very serious trouble," Oates said Friday, adding, "...including Bell."

Stephens, meawhile, branded the lawsuit's allegations "fabrications." He said he stopped short of saying Bell had been arrested, merely noting that his information "suggested" such a thing.

"I played exactly the same ostentatious presentation that they love...," Stephens said.

As for the allegation that Oates branded Bell a child molester: "That's insane," Oates said. "I have no idea where he would get that from."

Oates guested on Bell's show "many, many times" before a falling out, he says. Oates is familiar to viewers of shows such as Strange Universe and Hard Copy as the leading authority on "reverse speech"--the art of playing audio recordings backward to uncover a speaker's real, "unconscious" intentions.

Stephens also once appeared on the Bell show.

(ORIGINALLY POSTED on 5/29/99 at 12:40 p.m.)

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