Thursday, April 5, 2018

Christian Author Robert D. Smith Seeks to Silence Alleged Child Sexual Abuse Survivor with Defamation Lawsuit




WSMV News 4


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."
Press release:

HOUSTON (APRIL 3, 2018) – Christian author and personal branding expert Robert D. Smith sexually assaulted Jim Cochrun when he was only 12 years old.  At the time of the assault, Robert Smith told Jim to never tell anyone. Jim was bullied into keeping the child sexual assault secret.  Forty years later, Robert D. Smith is attempting to use the legal system to continue to silence this victim of child sexual assault by filing a defamation suit against Jim Cochrun.


For over 30 years, Robert D. Smith has managed the career of New York Times best-selling author and speaker Andy Andrews and has provided personal branding consultation to numerous other well-known figures in the Christian community. 

After unsuccessfully attempting to “make this go away” in direct conversations with his alleged victim, Smith filed a lawsuit against Cochrun in the Chancery Court of Williamson County, TN at Franklin as Case No. 46996.  In the suit, Smith seeks over $750,000 from his victim. The suit was removed to the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee on February 21, 2018. That case is styled as Case No. 3:18-cv-00225.  Recently, Jim Cochrun filed his answer in federal court challenging the lawsuit against him and also made a complaint with the Tulsa Police Department in Tulsa, OK (the law enforcement agency with jurisdiction over the incidents of sexual abuse committed by Robert Smith on Jim Cochrun).

Jim Cochrun made the difficult decision to share his story with the general public in the hope that any other victims will be emboldened to step forward and seek justice like he is.

“Being sued by your abuser is understandably shocking,” George Edwards said. “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.”

Brent Webster further states that “Jim’s willingness to come forward with the truth is the only way to keep perpetrators like this out of positions of influence.”

George Edwards, III, Murtaza Sutarwalla, and Brent Webster of Edwards Sutarwalla PLLC and John D. Kitch, of Counsel for Cornelius & Collins LLP, represent Jim Cochrun. 
###
About Edwards Sutarwalla PLLC
Edwards Sutarwalla PLLC (www.eslawpartners.com) is a full-service business law firm based in Houston and Austin, Texas practicing in the areas of civil litigation, commercial transactions and corporate law. Edwards Sutarwalla PLLC also represents survivors of child sexual assault and abuse throughout the country.






The narrative portion of the Tulsa police report (embedded above) states that the victim Jim Cochrun alleges that after the sexual assault, Robert D. Smith told him, "This is going to be our little secret. You can never tell ANYONE about this."