Lawsuit filed over TV show
LC man was found not guilty in 1992 rape case profiled on ‘Cold Justice: Sex Crimes’
A Lake Charles man found not guilty of aggravated rape after a trial in state district court in 2017 has filed a civil lawsuit against Turner Network Television, Wolf Films, Magical Elves and several individuals affiliated with those companies and others.
Johnell Earl Ledoux, along with his wife, Arvet Ledoux, on behalf of themselves and their minor child, filed the lawsuit Thursday.
Ledoux, 45, who spent two years in jail awaiting trial, was arrested in 2015 and held on $850,000 bond in the Calcasieu Correctional Center after authorities said his DNA matched a sample collected after a rape in the area of North First Avenue and North Railroad Avenue in 1992.
Documents filed last week said the lawsuit arises from the production for profit of an episode of reality-show television, “Cold Justice: Sex Crimes,” which the suit said was written, produced, televised and aired on various cable television networks and television streaming services, beginning in 2015 and continuing until Oct. 1, 2018.
Among complaints in the lawsuit is the fact that even though the episode on Ledoux’s case continued to run after he was found not guilty, the airing of shows after the verdict did not update to reflect his acquittal.
Dick Wolf, a principal of Wolf Films, has a career-long association with law enforcement, including his acclaimed “Law & Order” series and several related shows.
The lawsuit alleges that the “Cold Justice: Sex Crimes” TV show reenactments in association with the 1992 alleged crime led to Ledoux’s eventual indictment and arrest on a charge of aggravated rape.
Alleging that his civil rights were violated, the lawsuit seeks damages for Ledoux for personal injury, attorney fees, and punitive damages.
Further, the lawsuit alleges that the companies and parties named in the legal documents “conspired to violate Ledoux’s civil rights by procuring false testimony, by coercing, incentivizing, and otherwise securing the significant assistance of state officials in the indictment, malicious prosecution, invasion of privacy, false imprisonment, and trial of a bogus rape charge which resulted in a unanimous jury acquittal of plaintiff.”
Additionally, the lawsuit alleges that the defendants collective investigations in 2015 “were an attempt to resurrect a closed case and resulted in a shocking and egregious disregard for Ledoux’s rights. The defendants’ collective actions did not serve the public good but, rather, were for entertainment purposes and profit.”
In his closing statement at Ledoux’s trial, prosecutor Eddie Brossette said of the alleged victim, “Yes, in those days of the early 1990s, she was a crack addict and an occasional prostitute. That isn’t who she is today. She’s not a victim; she’s a survivor. And she’s my hero. The defendant is a liar.”
Wilford Carter was Ledoux’s defense attorney and he said at trial, “Yes, my client was there and his DNA was found. She was an admitted prostitute.This is a very serious case, and your job as a jury is to determine whether the state proved its case beyond a reasonable doubt. They have not.”
The defense argued that Ledoux and the victim had consensual sex in exchange for drugs.
“She’s a fine person now it seems like,” Carter said. “But that simply was not the case in 1992. She told the court that she didn’t run that night because she can’t outrun a bullet; she didn’t have to run because nobody was shooting at her.”
A friend of the victim who had been with her that night in 1992, told the court that she knew her friend had used drugs and engaged in prostitution during that time but that she did not know whether her friend had ever prostituted in exchange for drugs.
Shortly after the verdict, Carter said the jury “did the right thing.”
After the verdict, Ledoux’s wife told the American Press that she and her husband have known each other since she was 13 years old. “He could never have done what they say he did,” she said. “This has been such a horrible experience for him and for all of us. Through all of it, we lost our home, cars, jobs. But not our faith.”
A lawsuit represents only one side of a situation or a dispute.
The lawsuit alleges ‘Cold Justice: Sex Crimes’ TV show reenactments in association with the alleged crime led to Ledoux’s eventual indictment and arrest.