BR lawyer accused of harassing former client, sues accuser

Baton Rouge lawyer Joel Porter is firing back at a former client who has accused him of stalking and harassing her after allegedly representing her in return for sexual favors.

Porter describes Ashley Smith’s allegations as “false, malicious and defamatory” in a lawsuit he filed against her Tuesday in the 19th Judicial District Court.

Porter is seeking damages from Smith, who he claims has caused him to suffer “irreparable and incalculable harm” to his character, reputation and good name, and marketability.

Porter, 56, and Smith, 25, of Baton Rouge, are scheduled to appear next week in East Baton Rouge Parish Family Court for a hearing on her May 15 petition for a protective order against him. A protective order that Family Court Judge Pamela Baker issued that day remains in effect through the June 4 hearing date.

“Ms. Smith sought and is seeking protection from Mr. Porter and this lawsuit appears to be yet another attempt by Mr. Porter to have contact with Ms. Smith,” lawyer Jill Craft, who represents Smith, said Thursday. “Ms. Smith is very much looking forward to her day in Court and closing what was a very difficult and frightening situation for her.”

Smith originally obtained a protective order against Porter from Baton Rouge City Court Judge Yvette Alexander on April 7, but retired Family Court Judge Luke Lavergne ­— filling in for Alexander — dissolved the order May 12 because Smith did not allege either a domestic or dating relationship with Porter.

Smith refiled her petition May 15 in Family Court, checking a box on the petition that describes Smith as a current or former dating partner of Porter.

Donna Grodner, one of Porter’s attorneys, said the refiled petition is just another attempt to libel and slander Porter.

“Ms. Smith’s bizarre suit has already been thrown out once,” Grodner added Thursday.

Porter contends in his lawsuit that he has never been on a date with Smith, and has never committed any physical, emotional, mental or verbal acts or violence against her. He also claims he has never stalked, followed or chased Smith and has never sexually harassed her.

Smith “knowingly, intentionally and with malice made outrageous, false and defamation statements to the press and other media outlets that she was trading sex for legal work,” he alleges in the suit.

Porter’s suit characterizes Smith’s April 7 petition for a temporary restraining order as a “more embellished, provocative and inflammatory version” of a Nov. 16 Baton Rouge Police Department incident report.

In the report, Smith complained about a suspicious vehicle and unknown driver following her and a female friend. But in the April 7 City Court filing, she identified Porter as the driver of the dark blue Dodge Avenger.

“Mr. Porter never owned, possessed, operated, had access to or even had knowledge of the ... Avenger,” his suit states.

Porter’s suit, which says the incident report was not included in the April petition, claims Smith misled and deceived the City Court judiciary into issuing a protective order.

The suit has been assigned to state District Judge Tim Kelley.