October 10, 2016

Senate candidate suing author and publisher of true crime book

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murder-in-the-bayou-9781476793252_hrEven now, in the age of completely pulverized attention spans, books can change the world. Specifically, they can change the course of electoral politics — especially when they contain damning information that might be used by one candidate against another (ahem).

We’re seeing a lurid example of this play out in Louisiana, where Murder In The Bayou, a new nonfiction book written by Ethan Brown about the unsolved murders of eight sex workers, has implicated a congressman and current senate candidate by claiming he solicited one or more of the victims. Richard Rainey reports at NOLA.com:

Allegations that Rep. Charles Boustany, R-Lafayette, was a client of Louisiana prostitutes who were later murdered are “total, despicable, scurrilous lies” that state Treasurer John Kennedy is peddling to the media, Boustany said Wednesday (Sept. 14). Both men are running for the U.S. Senate.

“These lies are being spread in a very despicable and false smear campaign furthered by operatives working for state Treasurer John Kennedy,” Boustany said in a conference call with reporters. “Mr. Kennedy has no regard for the truth and I know the people of Louisiana do. The allegations made by (author) Ethan Brown and spread by the Kennedy campaign are wholly and completely false.”

Kennedy spokesman Lionel Rainey said the Kennedy campaign had not written or published Brown’s book, Murder on the Bayou, which was released this week and included the allegation involving Boustany.

“The book speaks for itself,” Rainey said. “The only reason the Kennedy campaign commented was because the Boustany campaign blamed the book on us and other Senate opponents.”

Boustany’s campaign initially sent out an email implicating the Kennedy campaign in propagating the book’s claims, prompting the Kennedy campaign to provide the above denial.

Murder On The Bayou describes the investigation into the murders of the women known as the “Jeff Davis 8,” named as such because their bodies were found in Jefferson Davis Parish between 2005 and 2009. Brown argues against the theory that all eight women were victims of a serial killer, saying they rather were victims of the violent local sex and drug trade — which allegedly counted Boustany as a client.

As evidence, Brown cites anonymous sources, including several sex workers who claim second-hand knowledge that Boustany solicited several of the victims. He further links Boustany to the victims via a staffer for Boustany’s congressional office, Martin “Big G” Guillory, who has since resigned. Guillory’s former company leased a hotel in the city of Jennings, the Boudreaux Inn, which was known to be frequented by the victims. Brown further claims to have discovered that the FBI interviewed Boustany about his connection to the hotel, though the FBI has Glomar’d up on this last point.

And with Kennedy maintaining just a slim lead in the polls coming into October (with hateful fuckwit David Duke, a joke of a candidate who is somehow in the race, polling dead last), Boustany has now filed a defamation lawsuit against Brown as well as the book’s publisher, Simon and Schuster. Per Boustany’s attorney, the extremely lawyer-name-sounding Jimmy Faircloth:

“Dr. Boustany hired me to defend his integrity and the honor of his family. And that’s what I intend to do, aggressively,” Faircloth said in a statement.  “The law does not allow someone to slander another person to sell books, not even public officials.  Mr. Brown either made up the story or he’s peddling political garbage that he knew or should have known is false.  It’s easy to spread hateful lies about others, but it’s not easy to defend it under oath while facing the prospects of perjury.  This lie will be exposed and those responsible will be held accountable.”

The petition comes out swinging, requesting a jury trial and punitive damages. The allegations don’t appear to have significantly hurt Boustany’s poll numbers, so it’s unclear how this suit is meant to change the narrative, assuming it has grounds. We’ve seen one high-profile defamation case against a publisher be thrown out after the book’s unflattering characterization of the plaintiff was sufficiently bolstered by the defense — and unless Boustany’s counsel has sufficient confidence in his claims and chances in court, I can’t imagine they relish the possibility of seeing more witnesses culled from the woodwork this late in the race.

 

 

Liam O’Brien is the Senior Sales & Marketing Manager at Melville House, and a former bookseller.

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