“You can recognize survivors of abuse by their courage. When silence is so very inviting, they step forward and share their truth so others know they aren’t alone.” ― Jeanne McElvaney
On April4, 2018, Amy Smith at Watch keep posted Christian Author Robert D. Smith Seeks to Silence Alleged Child Sexual Abuse Survivor with Defamation Lawsuit.
Let’s go back to the beginning of this disturbing story. I talked with Jim Cochrun for 2 hours on the phone and became convinced that he was telling the truth.
When Jim was 12, he lived with his family in a house owned by a ministry where his father was a music minister for the organization. Robert D Smith (hereafter knows as Smith) was a youth pastor who lived in a nearby home. Jim Cochrun (Jim has asked that his real name be used) really enjoyed this seemingly cool youth leader and was pleased that Smith befriended his brother and him. They would often visit him in his home. One night, Smith invited Cochran into his bedroom and molested him. You can read the details of the assault in the Tulsa police report graciously provided by Amy Smith.
Trigger Warning: Graphic details of the sexual assault.
What happened to Jim Cochrun while Robert D Smith happily pursued fame and fortune?
Sadly, Jim would be molested several times until Smith moved back to Birmingham where he reconnected with his friend, Andy Andrews. However, as careers got started and fame occurred, did Smith ever wonder what happened to Jim? That is the story that I wanted to hear and Jim bravely recounted the aftermath of his ordeal
Smith had warned Jim not to tell anyone what happened and Jim obeyed his youth pastor. However, that promise of silence would prove to be harmful to Jim’s wellbeing. You see, 12 year old Jim could not process what happened to him. He secretly worried that he was gay because he had an erection during the assault. He did not understand that this response is normal and was unable to ask anyone.
Jim, determined to prove his masculinity, became a linebacker on his high school football team even thought he hated football! By the end of high school, he was still determined to prove his manhood. He visited a Marine recruiter and, with his parents’ permission, joined up for four years. At 17 years old, and just two days after high school graduation, Jim was in boot camp at Parris Island, SC.
And so he served, immersing himself in the macho cultured the booze-soaked revelry that is in the Marine Corps. Jim had periodic run-ins with the law for drinking related infractions. However, he successfully completed five years in the Marines and was honorably discharged.
The drinking continued. In 1993, Jim’s three year old daughter died in her sleep due to natural causes. Jim’s alcohol accelerated as he tried to first combat, then escape, the grief and post-traumatic stress produced by the death of his daughter.
Jim drank for fifteen more years, sacrificing his family, career and reputation to protect the only coping mechanism that seemed to work. He was bankrupt-spiritually, morally, physically and financially.
Then he began to heal.
Two years later, clean and sober, Jim found a new passion: assisting and supporting other veterans dealing with post traumatic stress and substance abuse through founding of a non-profit organization called Code VI Veteran Integration which describes its mission as:
Our mission and purpose is to ignite the spark of hope and resilience in Veterans & Families. We are Veterans and know change is not just possible, but realistically achievable. We don’t “help” Veterans – we’ve learned some Veterans have a hard time accepting help – instead, we assist support, encourage, teach and equip Veterans & Families to achieve integration and balance and lead flourishing lives.
Jim provides his biography on this website.
As a Marine Corps Veteran and Certified Veteran Peer Specialist, Jim Cochrun has a true passion and immeasurable experience in Veteran outreach. In 2014 he had a glimpse of the greater vision that would eventually become Code VI Veteran Integration Center.
Ideas began to take seed and by late-summer of 2015, Jim had a much broader view of what he wanted to create for fellow Veterans, but at this point, the timing felt “off”. Through much prayer and brainstorming, he and his wife, Kate, agreed to wait and trust that the right time would present itself. Three weeks later, Kate was diagnosed with breast cancer. They both knew then why they were nudged to wait and for the next 9 months, they battled the disease together…and WON!
When Kate was officially declared cancer free, they took off with their daughters for a much needed celebratory trip to Costa Rica, where they fell in love with the best coffee they’d ever tasted! They brought home as much as they could pack and savored it over the next weeks and months. Not only was it smooth and delicious, but it held a very special connection to the hope, perseverance and resilience they’d found through their journey. They didn’t know it yet, but that very same coffee bean from Costa Rica that would later become the base for their own private label: Code VI Coffee.
In early 2017, the time was right. Jim applied for and received his 501c3 and founded his dream: Code VI Veteran Integration Center!
As someone who has supported Wounded Warriors, his website sucked me in. Not only is he a hero in my book but he is serving other heroes who have honorably served our country. I happened to notice a link to some special coffee and I could not resist. I get to drink excellent coffee and support his wonderful organization while doing so.
Where was Smith while Jim was struggling with his abuse while honorably serving with the Marines?
Smith achieved notoriety with his book 20,000 Days and Counting: The Crash Course for Mastering Your Life Right Now with Thomas Nelson Publishers. In 2014, this book was a finalist at the Executive Leadership Summit.
He also has managed the successful career of Andy Andrews. You can read more about him here. I found this following quote by Andrews interesting.I would like to add something.” I will forgive myself after I seek to repair the damage my actions have caused another.”
I will greet this day with a forgiving spirit; I will forgive myself.
Smith also managed Jerry Jenkins, the co-author of the Left Behind series and was a friend of Rick White, at one time hiring as a youth pastor. However, that friendly relationship ended sometime in the mid 200s according to Jim.
So, as you can see, Smith is connected with some famous names in the Christian evangelical circuit.
Jim Cochrun decided to confront Robert D Smith about his abuse and got nowhere.
In 2008 Cochrun reached out to Smith, speaking with him on the phone. The content from that discussion has been turned over to the police. He then sent the following email to Smith in 2014 and did not receive a reply.
Jim decided to go public with his story and is now being sued by the man he testifies is his abuser.
Jim reached out to people associated with Smith and Smith responded by suing him, stating there is no proof of his allegations.
Stop the music….let’s get something straight. Sexual abuse takes place behind closed doors and is usually accompanied by threats to remain silent. Those threats cal devastate the life of a 12 year old boy. There are only two people who know what happened in that room. And no. Mr. Smith, Jim should not have to remain silent because you played head games with him as a boy. He has suffered, suffered greatly.
Now, let’s discuss the law. Jim is telling the truth as he knows it to be. I have listened to his story and it is compelling. He remembers little details of Smith’s bedroom like how he folded the sheets, where he put the towels and the position of the bed in the room. I believe Jim’s story.
The law also states that Smith must prove that Jim lied in order to bring harm to him. He lied? This honorably discharged Marine Corps Veteran who serves his fellow veterans? Really? He suffered the after effects of abuse and sought to drown his pain in the bottle. Do you know that response is seen in many cases of childhood sexual abuse? If not, do some reading…
WSMV posted Franklin author accused of sexual abuse denies allegations. Please note that Cochrun is NOT suing Smith.
…Smith is suing Cochrun for $750,000 claiming these allegations have ruined his reputation, character and his business relationships.
…The following statement was released from Smith’s attorney, Jonathan Pledger:
“The lawsuit that is now pending in the Federal Court for the Middle District of Tennessee is the result of Mr. Smith filing an action for defamation and tortuous interference with business relations against Jim Cochrun as a result of Mr. Cochrun publishing outrageous and defamatory comments involving Mr. Smith; allegations which Mr. Cochrun state occurred 40 years ago. It is important to note that Jim Cochrun did not and has not sued Mr. Smith. Mr. Smith filed his lawsuit in Williamson County Tennessee where he obtained a restraining order against Mr. Cochrun to restrain him from his continued dissemination of his false slanderous and outrageous allegations. Mr. Smith filed his lawsuit for the sole purpose of clearing his name of any wrong doing involving Mr. Cochrun’s allegations. Mr. Smith’s lawsuit was filed in February 2018 and up to this point, Mr. Cochrun has not provided a shred of evidence that any of the allegations are in fact true.”
I am so deeply disturbed by Smith’s willingness to bring pain to an honorable man that I am providing the entire response from Cochrun’s attorney.
PRESS CONTACT: Attorney George Edwards, III 832-717-2562 832-231-3788 firstname.lastname@example.org
Christian Author Robert D. Smith Seeks to Silence Alleged Child Sexual Abuse Survivor with Defamation Lawsuit
HOUSTON (DATE) – 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 court challenging the complaint.
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. An excerpt of Cochrun’s story is below.
In 1978 I was 12 years old and I lived in a simple frame house in Tulsa, Oklahoma. My father was the music minister at a local church, and Robert D. Smith, then aged 22, was my youth pastor.
One Saturday night at Robert’s house, he poked his head around the wall of his bedroom, and called out “Hey, Fred. Come in here for a minute.” It was commonplace for Robert to call me by the name Fred in reference to the character Bassett Hound in Smokey and the Bandit. Entering his room, I saw him lying in bed. “Close the door. I want to show you something.” I tentatively obeyed. He was my youth pastor. I climbed into bed and he pushed the sheet to his waist to reveal that he was naked and had an erection. He admonished me and said, “Don’t go, stay here.” I obeyed. Robert placed my hand on his erect penis, instructing me to grasp it and begin stroking him. I pulled my hand back and said, “No! I don’t want to do this.” “It’s OK. You’ll like it. I promise,” said Robert. I did as instructed. Robert told me to continue, that I was doing fine. This continued for several minutes until Robert’s body went tense as he ejaculated. It went everywhere—on his chest, stomach, and coated my hand. Robert produced a towel from next to the bed and began cleaning up the mess.
He turned to me and said “now it’s my turn” and pushed me back on the bed. Robert pulled my pajamas down and began stroke my penis. My body responded and I got an erection. Robert smiled and said, “I knew you would like it.” I was dizzy and confused. What was happening?
Robert continued, then stopped and slid down on the bed. He lowered his head and took my penis into his mouth. I was confused and angry.
After he finished, I got up from the bed, retrieved my clothing and got dressed and told Robert I was going to watch Saturday Night Live. He asked, “Are you OK, Fred? This is going to be our little secret. You can never tell ANYONE about this.” This scene was repeated several more times over the summer of 1978.
“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.
It should be noted that Andy Andrews has severed all ties with Robert Smith. Read the highlighted part of this statement in the WSMV article. “Multiple allegation of sex abuse with preadolescent males….”
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.”
I believe that more will be revealed as this story and lawsuit progresses. It frankly makes me sick to my stomach that a man, who served his country and dealt with the pain of his childhood abuse, would once again be abused by his abuser-this time through the court system. It gives meaning to the theory that sex abuse is not about sex but about power and control.
#metoo. #churchtoo #IStandWithJim