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Lawsuit says ‘S-Town’ creators exploited the man at center of the podcast

"S-Town" host and producer Brian Reed and producer Julie Snyder speak at the Vulture Festival in New York in May. Bryan Bedder/Getty Images

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — The estate of the man at the center of the popular “S-Town” podcast is suing the show’s creators, saying they exploited details of his private life for financial gain.Craig Cargile, the executor of John B. McLemore’s estate, filed the lawsuit Thursday in Bibb County, Alabama. The lawsuit contends McLemore didn’t give permission to broadcast the intimate details of his sexual orientation, mental state and other aspects of his life.“S-Town” tells the story of McLemore, an antique clock restorer from Woodstock, Alabama, who killed himself in 2015.

McLemore in 2012 sent an email to producers of “This American Life” asking for help in a murder investigation. The resulting 2017 podcast focused heavily on McLemore and included the description on its website as an “unearthing of the mysteries of one man’s life.”

“None of these ‘mysteries’ are of legitimate public concern, nor were these matters that McLemore contacted [producer-host Brian] Reed to investigate or write about. Instead, they generally involved the private matters of McLemore’s life,” attorneys wrote in the lawsuit.

S-Town executive producer Julie Snyder wrote in an emailed response to the Associated Press that she could not comment on the litigation other than to say it “lacks merit.”

“S-Town is produced consistent with the highest journalistic standards and we intend to defend against this lawsuit aggressively,” Snyder wrote.

The lawsuit asks for compensatory and punitive damages.

“S-Town,” a Peabody Award winner, was produced by “Serial” and “This American Life,” shows affiliated with Chicago’s WBEZ-FM (91.5).