BATON ROUGE, La. — U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany of Louisiana filed a defamation lawsuit Monday against the author and publisher of a book that alleges the Republican congressman was involved with prostitutes who were later killed.
The lawsuit claims author Ethan Brown and Simon & Schuster, which published Brown’s book “Murder in the Bayou,” have made statements that “were known to be false when made or were made with malicious intent and reckless disregard for the truth.”
The book, about the killings of eight prostitutes in Jefferson Davis Parish, includes a chapter claiming Boustany was involved with some of the women. Brown cites multiple anonymous sources and does not allege Boustany is involved in the slayings.
Boustany has called the allegations “despicable lies.”
Contacted about the lawsuit, Brown referenced a previous statement he issued that said: “I stand by what I reported in my book.”
The book’s release last month came at a particularly sensitive time for Boustany, ahead of the Nov. 8 election in which he is one of the leading candidates in the race for an open U.S. Senate seat.
Boustany lawyer Jimmy Faircloth said the lawsuit was filed in Lafayette Parish district court, aimed at defending Boustany’s “integrity and the honor of his family.”
The lawsuit accuses Brown of adding the chapter on Boustany to the end of the book “to sensationalize the story.” It says Simon & Schuster couldn’t verify the material but authorized publication anyway “to boost sales.”
“The law does not allow someone to slander another person to sell books, not even public officials. Mr. Brown either made up the story or he’s peddling political garbage that he knew or should have known is false,” Faircloth said in a statement.
Simon & Schuster didn’t immediately return requests for comment. The Associated Press hasn’t been able to independently confirm the prostitution allegations against Boustany.
The lawsuit seeks an injunction against further publication of the information and damages to be paid to Boustany.
Faircloth acknowledges that any resolution isn’t likely to come ahead of next month’s election.
Brown’s book also says a former Boustany employee was involved in the operations of a Jefferson Davis Parish hotel allegedly frequented by the prostitutes. The defamation lawsuit doesn’t challenge those claims. Boustany has said the employee hid the hotel information from him and left the congressman’s office last month.
Twenty-four candidates are in the Senate race, a seat open because Republican David Vitter — who found his bid for governor derailed in part by a prostitution scandal — isn’t running for re-election. The race is expected to be decided in a Dec. 10 runoff.
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