Cooking star pays plaintiffs in sexual abuse suits
In most sexual abuse cases, it’s one person’s word against another’s. In the Frugal Gourmet’s case, it was his word against 20 or more. Four days before he was to face trial in Tacoma, Wash., Jeff Smith, host of the popular PBS cooking show, agreed July 1  to pay an undisclosed sum to seven young men who had accused him variously of groping, kissing and raping them when they were teenagers. “Based on my interviews with a lot of the principals involved, I think it would have been pretty ugly,” says Deborah Holton, a Portland Oregonian reporter who has followed the story closely. Court TV had asked to cover the trial, and it could have featured testimony against Smith from more than a dozen people who didn’t sue him, as well as the seven who did.