A Baton Rouge lawyer has sued People Magazine, claiming a story it published earlier this year falsely portrays him as the killer in his wife’s stabbing death.
Joel Porter sued the magazine and journalists Steve Helling and Anne Lang in 19th Judicial District Court on Friday, seeking damages for the harm he says the Jan. 5 story and a related live Internet broadcast feed caused to his personal and professional reputations and for emotional distress.
Porter alleges the magazine article, “A Cold Case Heats Up: Who Killed Denise Porter?”, wrongly “trains its accusatory focus exclusively upon Joel Porter, by sheer virtue of his marriage to Denise Porter, as the only individual who could have possibly had a motive to kill his wife.”
Porter alleges the magazine ignored evidence that he was at work during the March 14, 1985, slaying, that his wife had multiple extramarital affairs and that DNA recovered from the crime scene at the couple’s apartment did not match his own.
Porter also takes issue with a passage in the story he says implies he was unhappy with the Baton Rouge Police Department’s reopening of the cold case file in 2013.
Porter says he had emphatically rejected an offer by the state Attorney General’s Office to close the case, “making it abundantly clear that his desire was that the case remain open until the killer of his wife was brought to justice.”
Porter says the magazine never spoke to him or anyone connected with him to find out how he felt about the renewed investigation.
Calling the story “reckless, irresponsible, outrageous and brazen conduct and outright journalistic failure,” Porter says the magazine defamed him through false statements and innuendo as well as omission of facts.
Porter says People should be held liable for listener and viewer comments on the story as well, which he says the magazine both encouraged and effectively ratified by incorporating them into its live blog.
Time Inc., People Magazine’s parent company, did not respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit or Porter’s allegations by 6 p.m. Monday. Porter also could not be reached for further comment.
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