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Writer Claims Filmmakers Spilled Secrets

MONROE, La. (CN) - A woman who wrote a "manuscript" about the rape and murder of a college basketball player claims another man based a screenplay upon it, from which a college professor produced and directed a movie that included incidents about sexual abuse within her own family that she told the men in confidence.

Frances Parker says she copyrighted her manuscript in 1993. In her federal complaint, she calls it a true crime story about the rape and murder of a Northeast Louisiana University's women's basketball player, and her own investigation of the case.

Parker claims that in 2000 she agreed that John Dufresne could write a screenplay based on her work, but he violated the agreement by publishing "a substantially similar short story entitled 'Based on a True Story' in a paperback anthology entitle 'Johnny Too Bad.'"

She claims Dufresne also wrote a screenplay based on her work, and without her permission engaged Grand Valley State University film professor John Philbin to produce and direct it. She claims Dufresne and Philbin released and distributed the movie, "To Live and Die in Dixie."

She claims they violated the agreement that gave her script approval, and violated her confidence by using the information she gave them about her personal and family history in the movie. Parker says she was shocked to see the film depicting the sexual abuse she discussed in confidence, and embarrassed when her daughter learned through the movie of the sexual abuse her mother had suffered.

Parker claims co-defendant Grand Valley State University, of Allendale, Mich., promised it would stop the promotion of the film, but she discovered that the film was being shown in theaters in Great Brittan and streamed online in the United States.

Parker also sued Otterbacher, a co-producer of the film. She seeks damages for copyright violations, breach of faith, breach of contract and unjust enrichment. She is represented by Mary Ellen Roy with Phelps Dunbar of New Orleans.

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