A Franklin man who has helped launch three best-selling books is in the midst of a disturbing chapter in his own life. He's being accused of molesting a child and is now suing his accuser.
The News 4 I-Team's Lindsay Bramson uncovered the court records that show the brewing battle.
So how influential is Robert D. Smith, the man accused of sexual abuse? Among his 148,000 followers on Twitter, is former president Barack Obama and country star Luke Bryan.
He's a consultant, known for launching best-sellers and he's fighting for his reputation. The accuser, Jim Cochrun, now 51, lives in Texas and says Robert Smith sexually assaulted him when he was just 12 years old. Now, Smith is suing that accuser.
Smith who lives in Franklin serves as a private consultant to a number of bestselling authors, speakers and entertainers including best-selling author Andy Andrews who has cut ties with his former manager saying in a Facebook post from January, "I completely ended the relationship with my longtime manager, Robert D. Smith. This severing of all ties, business and personal, is due to multiple allegations of child abuse with preadolescence males."
Smith is suing Cochrun for $750,000 claiming these allegations have ruined his reputation, character and his business relationships.
Cochrun's attorney, George Edwards III, who is the managing partner at Edwards Sutarwalla, issued this statement:Being sued by your abuser is understandably shocking. Jim has never sought money from his abuser. His motivation is that justice is done and that any other victims who may exist are empowered to come forward. The good news for Jim and other victims like him is that they will defend these allegations with the truth. Proving defamation is difficult. The statements must be false, which means Smith would have to prove that the sexual assault did not happen. Our client has no reason to lie.Click here to read the full news release from Cochrun's attorney (PDF).
The following statement was released from Smith’s attorney, Jonathan Pledger:"The lawsuit that is now pending in the Federal Court for the Middle District of Tennessee is the result of Mr. Smith filing an action for defamation and tortuous interference with business relations against Jim Cochrun as a result of Mr. Cochrun publishing outrageous and defamatory comments involving Mr. Smith; allegations which Mr. Cochrun state occurred 40 years ago. It is important to note that Jim Cochrun did not and has not sued Mr. Smith. Mr. Smith filed his lawsuit in Williamson County Tennessee where he obtained a restraining order against Mr. Cochrun to restrain him from his continued dissemination of his false slanderous and outrageous allegations. Mr. Smith filed his lawsuit for the sole purpose of clearing his name of any wrong doing involving Mr. Cochrun’s allegations. Mr. Smith’s lawsuit was filed in February 2018 and up to this point, Mr. Cochrun has not provided a shred of evidence that any of the allegations are in fact true."News4 does not identify people who claimed they've been sexually abused, but in this case, Cochrun's attorney says he no longer wanted to hide from what he says is the truth.
Copyright 2018 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.