A Baton Rouge woman who has a protective order against lawyer Joel Porter testified Wednesday he represented her in exchange for sex and later stalked, harassed and threatened her after she broke off their alleged relationship.
Porter vehemently denied those allegations in testimony of his own and said the only relationship he had with Ashley Smith was that of attorney and client.
“I need something to protect myself,” the 25-year-old Smith told East Baton Rouge Parish Family Court Judge Pamela Baker through tears. “Joel has made many threats that he will find me and I’ll never be with another man.
“Yes, I’m afraid he’s going to hurt me.”
Porter, who was questioned at length by Smith attorney Jill Craft, strenuously denied engaging in sexual acts with Smith or sending sexually explicit text messages to her in 2013.
“I did not engage in sexual behavior with Miss Smith,” he said. “I’ve never kissed Miss Smith. I don’t recall propositioning Miss Smith or anyone for sex.”
Baker recessed the hearing until Aug. 20. She must decide whether to extend the protective order, which has been in effect since mid-May, or dissolve it. For now, it remains in force.
Porter, 56, said he represented Smith in late 2012 and early 2013 against charges that included criminal damage to property, kidnapping and simple battery.
“She paid me with cash,” he said.
Porter, who said his legal representation of Smith ended in March 2013, testified there was never a dating relationship between the two.
“I’ve never threatened Miss Smith, or any other woman, ever in my life,” he said. “I can’t be any more emphatic than that.”
Smith was equally emphatic about the alleged sex in return for legal representation.
“He said if I didn’t have sex with him, he wouldn’t show up in court,” she testified.
“As time went on, it started getting worse,” she said. “He wanted me to do all kinds of nasty things.”
Smith said Porter later told her he loved her and wanted to marry her.
“I didn’t want anything to do with him anymore,” she said.
Smith said when she first met Porter at a College Drive restaurant in 2012, he gave her and the girlfriends she was with business cards that had the name Joel Portman on it and a cellphone number, which she put into her phone.
Porter insisted he has never gone by that name.
Porter has a defamation lawsuit against Smith that is pending in the 19th Judicial District Court. He is seeking damages from her for damaging his reputation and livelihood.
Smith originally obtained a protective order against Porter from Baton Rouge City Court Judge Yvette Alexander in April, 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.