ANNISTON, Ala. — The chairman of an organization that publishes six newspapers in Alabama has been accused of assaulting feminine workers by spanking them whereas he was a newsroom govt a long time in the past.
In stories revealed in Alabama information shops, at the least three ladies say H. Brandt Ayers, who grew to become a nationally recognized voice of Southern liberalism throughout his tenure as editor and writer at The Anniston Star, assaulted them within the mid-1970s, as soon as utilizing a metallic ruler. The ladies and different former newsroom workers say Ayers had a repute for spanking different ladies.
Ayers — now 82 and chairman of Consolidated Publishing Co., which operates six papers together with The Star — issued a press release saying he “did some issues I remorse” when he was a “very younger man with extra authority than judgment.”
A web based publication, Alabama Political Reporter, first reported the allegations of former Star worker Veronica Pike Kennedy. The Star later revealed its personal account quoting Kennedy and two different ladies who declined to have their names revealed; the Montgomery Advertiser additionally interviewed Kennedy and cited one lady who requested to stay nameless.
Kennedy advised the Advertiser she was working as a part-time clerk in an almost abandoned newsroom on a Saturday morning greater than 40 years in the past when Ayers after he requested her to learn certainly one of his columns and she or he jokingly requested who had written it.
“And he mentioned, ‘Oh, you might be being a nasty woman,'” Kennedy mentioned. “‘You realize what I do to unhealthy ladies? I spank them.”
Ayers forcibly pulled her out of a chair and whipped her with a metallic ruler, Kennedy mentioned. Kennedy mentioned the episode led her to hunt counseling years later.
“It was arduous to belief anyone in authority for a very long time after that,” she mentioned. “I had anger I did not notice I had.”
Mike Stamler advised the Advertiser he was within the newsroom that day, engaged on a narrative. He mentioned he remembered seeing Ayers and Kennedy disagreed about one thing, then noticed the assault.
“I used to be surprised,” he mentioned.
Trisha O’Connor, a journalism professor who labored on the Star as a reporter and editor throughout the interval, advised The Related Press in an interview Tuesday that though she did not witness or expertise assaults, tales of Ayers’ habits have been so quite a few that she and different ladies on the paper would inform new feminine employees to keep away from Ayers and keep away from his workplace until accompanied by a supervisor.
“We took it to higher administration and mentioned, ‘We’d like help. That is horrible.’ Principally, from what we have been capable of see, nothing occurred,” mentioned O’Connor, who teaches at Coastal Carolina College in Conway, South Carolina.
Ayers didn’t return an electronic mail in search of remark. He addressed the accusations in a press release revealed by The Star on Monday:
“As a really younger man with extra authority than judgment, I did some issues I remorse,” Ayers mentioned. “At my superior age I want I may relive these days once more, realizing the seriousness of my place and with the accrued judgment that goes with age.”
The incidents described are too previous for any felony fees to be filed.
Ayers stepped down final yr as writer of the Anniston newspaper. His successor, Bob Davis, didn’t return an electronic mail in search of touch upon Ayers’ place at Consolidated Publishing.
Ayers is a member of the Alabama Academy of Honor, which acknowledges residing Alabamians for his or her achievements. His syndicated column has been carried in papers statewide.
A longtime advocate of progressive insurance policies in a deeply conservative state, Ayers has written articles for publications together with The New York Occasions and was as soon as an everyday contributor to “Morning Version” on Nationwide Public Radio.
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