Former client seeks court protection
A former female client of Baton Rouge lawyer Joel Porter has secured a second protective order against him, claiming he represented her in return for sexual favors and has since stalked and harassed her by sending sexually suggestive text messages and following her.
In a petition for protection from abuse filed in East Baton Rouge Parish Family Court, Ashley Noella Smith references the ongoing investigation into the unsolved 1985 stabbing death of Porter’s wife and says she fears for her life.
“I’m afraid that he would find me and kill me,” the 25-year-old Smith states in the petition.
Family Court Judge Pamela Baker signed a protective order late Thursday afternoon that will remain in effect through June 4, when a hearing on the matter is scheduled.
Baker ordered the 56-year-old Porter not to abuse, harass, stalk, follow or threaten Smith. He also is not allowed to contact Smith or go within 100 yards of her or her home.
“On a scale of one to 10, I’d say a 20,” lawyer Jill Craft, who represents Smith, said Friday when asked how fearful Smith is of Porter.
One of Porter’s attorneys, Tiffany Foxworth, characterized the allegations contained in Smith’s latest petition as the same that led to a Baton Rouge City Court-ordered protective order that was ultimately dissolved. Foxworth said the Family Court filing is nothing more than an attempt by Smith to “forum shop.”
Porter, who last month described Smith as “emotionally disturbed,” has steadfastly maintained he was at work when his wife was killed. He also has denied Smith’s allegations of stalking, harassment and sexual misconduct.
Smith originally obtained a protective order against Porter from City Court Judge Yvette Alexander on April 4. Smith did not have an attorney at that time. But on Monday, retired Family Court Judge Luke Lavergne — filling in for Alexander — dissolved the order because Smith did not allege either a domestic or dating relationship with Porter.
Smith, now represented by Craft’s firm, refiled her petition Thursday in Family Court, checking a box on the petition that describes Smith as a current or former dating partner of Porter.
Smith claims in the petition that she had a “sexual relationship” with Porter while he was her attorney.
“Our relationship arrangement that he made was that he would represent me in a case in exchange for sexual favors,” she alleges. “He took advantage of me because I was poor and needed legal representation.”
Smith contends in the petition that Porter first began harassing her through text messages, some of which are attached to her petition. She says Porter used the name “Joel Portman.” Smith has said previously that she met Porter in 2012 when he represented her. At that time, she has said, he identified himself as Joel Portman.
Craft said Friday the texts came from Porter’s cellphone number.
In a text on Sept. 12 at 8:41 p.m., “Joel Portman” asks Smith if she will marry him. “No sir,” she replies two minutes later.
The following day at 8:48 a.m., he asks Smith for a picture. “For?” she inquires at 10:11 a.m.
“Just for me. Wow. Lol I hv to hv a reason for a pic,” he says at 10:15 a.m.
“Y do u always assume that I’m up to something whn it comes to u. I was just thnking about u. In fact I thought about u all night bcuz I couldn’t sleep and just wanted a pic. That’s all but I understand if u don’t want to send one. No big deal. Lol,” he adds at 10:43 a.m.
Smith received another text from Joel Portman on Nov. 13 at 3:57 p.m. stating, “I’m horny. I’m going to hv to find a girl that I can hv sex w.”
Smith claims in her petition that Porter’s alleged stalking of her began in November when he chased her and her roommate home.
“We attempted to go home three different times that night, and we couldn’t because he was sitting outside our apartment,” she states.
Smith says in the petition she moved to Texas “to get away from him.”
“On multiple occasions when I tried to come back to Baton Rouge, Joel was following me,” she states.
Smith says she left Texas “because I felt like he found me.” She also alleges Porter followed her twice in March.
“I’m back in Baton Rouge and I need this protective order,” she stresses in her petition. “I need this, please help.”