- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 1, 2015

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - A Baton Rouge judge said a jury must decide whether the Louisiana Inspector General’s Office defamed former state Alcohol and Tobacco Control chief Murphy Painter when the office accused him of stalking and sexually harassing his ex-administrative assistant.

Painter filed a lawsuit in 2011 against the Inspector General’s Office and Inspector General Stephen Street, saying the office defamed him in a 2010 search warrant application, The Advocate reports (https://bit.ly/1YF5ddP).

Janice Clark, a 19th Judicial District Court judge, refused to either throw out the case Monday or rule in Painter’s favor. She said a state court jury should resolve what she called genuine issues of material fact that remain in Painter’s lawsuit.

Painter also contends that Street and his office smeared Painter’s name by accusing him of illegally accessing confidential law enforcement databases to find personal information on people - mostly women - who were not connected to any criminal probes.

A federal jury in Baton Rouge acquitted Painter in 2013 on more than two dozen counts of computer fraud and false statement to the FBI relating to those accusations.

Another federal jury found in the fall of 2014 that the former assistant defamed Painter in her 2010 state court lawsuit in which she said he had stalked and sexually harassed her. That jury, though, said Painter failed to prove Suire defamed him in the Inspector General’s Office’s 2010 search warrant application because the words “stalked” and “harassed” were used by Inspector General investigator Shane Evans, not the woman.

Preston Castille, an attorney for the office and Street, and Al Robert Jr., one of Painter’s attorneys, said they’re prepared to go to trial. The judge did not set a trial date Monday.


Information from: The Advocate, https://theadvocate.com

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