Thursday, June 29, 2006

Shook Explains

An interview with Sheriff Mark Shook in today's High Country News (p. 3, not as yet available on-line) quotes him clarifying his statement that the first sexual harassment suit against him was "politically motivated": "When I said it was politically motivated, I didn't mean by any [political] party, but by certain individuals who want to hurt me and who want me out of office in retaliation for being terminated. I'm not saying the Democratic or Republican Party is behind this. These are individuals who are trying to discredit me to the voters."

He also emphatically denied a rumor (running rampant through county offices yesterday) that he had decided to resign.

Tomorrow's Watauga Democrat (not yet available on-line but out now on news stands) contains a lengthy interview with county attorney Andrea Capua. Among other interesting wrinkles: Sheriff Shook's attorney, Rebecca Eggers, was county attorney during the time that the two plaintiffs allege they complained about Shook's behavior to the county manager. Eggers denies that those complaints were ever lodged.

Capua also spoke on the record about the "politically motivated" comment that has now been clarified: "I don't think this is Democrat versus Republican. The political motive is to get [Shook] out of office. [Townsend] would have loved for Mark to have lost the primary so she could have a way back into the sheriff's department." But Capua went on: "This is just me speaking personally. To me it's pretty obviously politically motivated, because [Townsend] put [the lawsuit] out to the press before Mark was even served. Paula's the one getting it out to the press, so she obviously has no problem with this stuff being out there."

Reading between THOSE lines might cause vertigo.

Angela Gray, the Winston-Salem attorney representing both plaintiffs, admitted that language in the lawsuits is aimed at seeing the sheriff removed from office, opening the way to the possible reinstatement of her clients.

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