Actor-turned-evangelist Leon Isaac Kennedy of Kennedy Healing Love Ministries is suing Ebony magazine for publishing a "sensationalized lie" that he leaked a sex tape of his first wife, actress and model Jayne Kennedy Overton, during their 1981 divorce.
According to a Court House News Service report, Kennedy filed the lawsuit against the publisher of Ebony, Johnson Publishing Co. and John Does 1-1 in Cook County Court in Illinois. Kennedy, who is represented by Brian Saucier with Deutsch, Levy & Engel, claims in the complaint that Ebony's "lie" has result in canceled ministry dates and a 40 percent drop in invitations for him to minister at churches and conferences that cost him at least $35,000 in lost revenue.
The 19-page lawsuit explains that before Kennedy became an evangelist, he granted the magazine access to him and his first wife's life during an amicable divorce in 1981. Last February, however, the publication revisited their story in a sensational issue alleging, although it doesn't name Kennedy, that he leaked a sex tape of his ex-wife.
"In February, 2013, Johnson, historically a well-regarded publisher of information and articles concerning African-American culture, political issues, news and public figures, undertook a campaign to publish highly inflammatory, negative stories about certain well-known African American celebrities and public figures which, on information and belief, was motivated by a desire to boost revenues by publicizing false and sensational stories of claimed celebrity scandal," said the lawsuit.
"In furtherance of its calculated decision to sell copies by promoting scandalous stories about well-known African-American public figures, in February 2013, Johnson published its March 2013 'Real-Life Scandal' issue through Ebony Magazine. On the cover of the issue, Johnson stated that the issue was reporting on 'Court Cases, Secret Affairs, Shocking Divorces, Drug Addictions ...'. On the cover, Kerry Washington, star of the popular ABC television show 'Scandal' is depicted wearing a partially unzipped black leather top and black leather mini-skirt. The cover also boasted a sub-heading, 'Sex, Lies and the Pulpit,'" it continued.
According to the report, Ebony claimed that Jayne Kennedy's first husband "viciously leaked" the sex tape which "passed from perv to perv" and Kennedy has denied it in the lawsuit.
"Kennedy did not leak a sex tape at all, much less leak a sex tape 'viciously' during the Kennedy divorce. Rather, a tape was stolen by a third party approximately a decade after the Kennedy 1981 divorce and was subsequently distributed in the 1990s with no knowledge, consent or participation by Kennedy," noted the lawsuit.
"Kennedy did not act viciously toward Jayne Kennedy during their divorce proceedings or act in a way to intentionally harm Jayne Kennedy Overton, or her career, in the course of their divorce or at any other time. To the contrary, the divorce was amicable as truthfully reported by Johnson in 1981 and 1982, and Kennedy and Jayne Kennedy Overton have remained friends over the years," said the complaint.