Former Carroll police officer Jacob Smith sued the Daily Times Herald for libel on Wednesday for its article about Smith’s relationships with teenage girls.
The lawsuit follows Smith’s resignation Monday amid the newspaper’s investigation of those relationships and the publication of an article about him Tuesday.
The article, titled “Carroll cop who courted teenage girls resigns,” included accounts of Smith’s relationships with several teenage girls and his firing from his previous police job in Sumner, in part because the city found he had exchanged inappropriate Facebook messages with a 16-year-old girl.
“(Smith’s) reputation has been destroyed, his character and integrity forever castigated in the public eye, and his employability as a law officer severely damaged if not totally ruined,” the lawsuit states.
James Van Dyke, the Carroll attorney representing Smith who filed the suit, declined to comment in an email to the Times Herald.
The suit names both Herald Publishing Company and Jared Strong, the article’s author, and lists counts of libel, intentional infliction of emotional distress and invasion of privacy.
“The Daily Times Herald stands behind our reporting on this story and will vigorously defend it,” Herald Publishing Company co-owner Douglas Burns said.
The lawsuit states that false information was provided to the newspaper by Smith’s ex-wife, the ex-boyfriend of Smith’s current girlfriend and an 19-year-old woman “with whom (Smith) is alleged to have had a brief relationship.”
“The article contained many false and defamatory statements,” the suit states. “The publication of the article was malicious.”
The lawsuit also noted a quote from Smith’s ex-wife calling him a “pedophile.”
“The incorrect, ignorant and inflammatory use of the term pedophile is a clear illustration of defendants’ reckless and wanton disregard for the truth,” the lawsuit states.