Billy Carter, President Carter's brother, filed assault charges today against a Washington-based freelance reporter who was preparing a series of articles on the Carter family.

A confrontation between Carter and the reporter, Peter Peckarsky, took place at Billy Carter's garage in Plains, Ga., according to Peckarsky's attorney, Ben Easterlin, of Americus, Ga.

"At this point, in fairness to both parties, it's too early to make a statement," Easterlin said when reached by phone this afternoon.

Carter filed simple assault charges at Sumter County Courthouse in Americus, according to Easterlin. He said that Peckarsky had not decided whether to file countercharges.

Peckarsky went to Carter's residence outside Plains today. Not finding Carter at home, he got into a conversation with Billy's wife, Sybil, according to the attorney, and she became upset with Peckarsky's questioning.

At the garage later, Peckarsky encountered Carter, who meantime had spoken with his wife, and an argument allegedly ensued. No blows were exchanged, Easterlin said, and both Carter and Peckarsky claimed innocence.

Easterlin also said, "It was alleged by Billy Carter that my client had a metal instrument... an old pipe or something. My client denies it."

Peckarsky was freed tonight on $2,000 bond.