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Vero Beach man sues A&E Networks over JFK program
Malcolm Liggett's lawsuit alleges the History Channel program "The Men Who
Killed Kennedy: The Smoking Guns" falsely portrays him and invades his privacy.
By James Kirley staff writer
July 6, 2004
VERO BEACH -- Malcolm Liggett recalls dozing off in front of the television one
night just before the 40th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy's
assassination last November and waking to hear that he was part of a cover-up.
"At first I thought I dreamed it," said Liggett, a 74-year-old retired
economics professor, labor economist and court mediator. "At that point, I woke
up my wife. She was very dismissive. 'You were just having a dream,' she said."
But when Malcolm and Suzanne Liggett sat through a Nov. 21 rerun of "The Men
Who Killed Kennedy: The Smoking Guns" on The History Channel, it repeated what
Malcolm Liggett had awoken to a few nights' earlier: A former wife of his
deceased brother, John Liggett -- a Dallas, Texas, mortuary worker -- saying
she thinks her ex-husband used his skills at preparing bodies to do something
to JFK's corpse.
Mortuary worker John Liggett's widow is identified in the film as "Lois" who
has since remarried and lives, "in a small town in Oklahoma." She further
states her ex-husband met his older brother, Malcolm Liggett, in a Corpus
Christi, Texas, motel two days after the assassination.
"Here again, they had conversations that made me feel like I didn't belong,"
she said in the documentary. "They knew something I didn't know."
Malcolm Liggett says he was nowhere near Corpus Christi that night. He has
filed a lawsuit in federal court against A&E Television Networks. It alleges
the program falsely portrayed him and invaded his privacy.
"Apparently, the producers of the program are intending to suggest that
(Malcolm Liggett) is (in Corpus Christi) to help his younger brother, John, in
a plot to cover up John's alleged role in the cover-up in the assassination of
President John F. Kennedy," the lawsuit reads. "At the time of the depiction,
(Malcolm Liggett) was in California, not Texas."
Another woman, identified in the documentary as Debra Godwin, Lois' daughter
and John Liggett's stepdaughter, identifies a man and woman in a photograph as
Malcolm and Suzanne Liggett. They appear to be standing next to Dallas
nightclub owner Jack Ruby in the photo, taken sometime before Ruby murdered
Malcolm Liggett says it's not him and his wife in the nightclub picture.
"This alleged photograph is apparently the only way that the producers of the
program could find to link John Liggett to Jack Ruby," the lawsuit reads. "The
program then clearly suggests that (Malcolm Liggett) is the link that brings
together Jack Ruby and John Liggett."
Malcolm Liggett said he was "just flabbergasted that somebody would do that,
take my name and drag it through that, to concoct their story."
He did confirm something the documentary detailed -- that his brother came to a
bad end. Accused of beating a woman to near death in 1974, John Liggett was
charged with attempted murder.
But in the documentary, John Liggett's ex-wife said Malcolm Liggett spoke to
her at a park in Dallas while his brother was still incarcerated, telling her
it would be best if she had no further contact with her ex-husband.
A short time later, John Liggett was shot and killed by guards at the Dallas
County jail, reportedly while trying to escape.
Malcolm Liggett confirmed the circumstances of his brother's death. But his
lawsuit says the meeting in the park never occurred.
"The program demonstrates a reckless disregard for the truth and...continues to
circumstantially allege that (Malcolm Liggett) was involved in some sort of
conspiracy with John Liggett and others in the assassination of John F.
Kennedy," the lawsuit reads.
Richard L. Brown, Malcolm Liggett's Vero Beach attorney, said a lawyer for A&E
Television Network wrote him to say the documentary contained no defamatory
statements. He declined to share a copy of the letter without the company's
"We are not going to release the letter," said Lynn Gardner, director of
communications for The History Channel in New York City. "We don't comment on
legal matters in the press."
Brown said he was struck by Malcolm Liggett's telling him that nobody connected
with the program ever contacted him.
"He's not a public figure," Brown said. "He shouldn't be exposed to that kind
of public humiliation without it even being checked."
Malcolm Liggett's lawsuit involves one of nine episodes in a three-part series
made over a 15-year period by British producer Nigel Turner.
Gardner said she was not aware of any lawsuits other than Malcolm Liggett's
that have been a result of the series. Nevertheless, it has been controversial.
For example, one episode, "The Guilty Men," examined conspiracy theories that
Lyndon B. Johnson was involved in Kennedy's murder. Besieged by friends and
family of the late President Johnson, The History Channel apologized to
Johnson's widow, stopped airing the segment and produced a one-hour program in
which a trio of independent historians were, in the words of The History
Channel's own press release, "highly critical of 'The Guilty Men' and The
History Channel decision to air it."
CV-67, "Big John," USS John F. Kennedy Plank Walker
Sooner, or later, the Truth emerges Clearly
"From a moral standpoint, Johnson had no use for religion except for the
political benefits that it bestowed upon him. He had no use for the sanctity of
marriage except for the voting benefits it offered to him as a 'married man.'
And, his desire for alcohol, just like with sex, was excessive. In short, moral
rules relating to his personal conduct had no effect on stopping him from
getting what he wanted."
----CRAIG ZIRBEL, summarizing LBJ's amoral characteristics that may have
contributed, along with 4 on-going criminal investigations implicating LBJ, to
LBJ's motivations for wanting President KENNEDY assassinated, "The Texas
I hope those irresponsible fools at A&E get their asses nailed to the wall.