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.
Leon Issac explains why he decided to take action in an open letter. 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.
They accused me of viciously releasing a sex tape during our divorce, insinuating that I purposely tried to ruin Jayne Kennedy’s career and life. Nothing could be further from the truth. They published these scandalized lies to sell magazines, with no regard of how it would forever damage me and others.
The fact is the tape was stolen from my home and was released and exploited almost a decade after our divorce. Jayne and her husband Bill know the truth and I have sworn affidavits from others stating that they know that this tape was not put out by me. In these post-divorce years, I’ve maintained a friendship with Jayne, Bill and their family.
What was particularly hurtful is that this was done by such a venerable, historical magazine. When you read something in Ebony, it’s “Bible”, regarded as truth by the public. Johnson Publishing built its foundation and legacy by lifting up and championing the achievements of the Black community and in particular, Black men. However, the present Ebony staff published sensationalized falsities, contrary to my wonderful working relationship and friendship with CEO-Founder John Johnson – now deceased – and Bob Johnson, one of Johnson’s main reporters.
It is also hurtful that Johnson Publications and Ebony’s current administration and editors would defame someone with such a long history with Johnson Publications. For many years, Jayne and I together, or independently, were on many covers and in inside articles. – Yes, we benefited from the publicity; however, we also generated an amazing number of sales for Johnson Publications.
We were informed that the two cover stories in 1981-82 detailing our divorce were two of the largest selling magazine issues in Johnson’s history. Now, shamefully to sell more magazines, the current Johnson Publications and its current editors purposefully disregarded what their Founder and CEO, Mr. John H. Johnson printed as the truth regarding the Kennedy divorce and my behavior.
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