An Alabama newspaper executive has admitted to spanking female employees in his charge during the 1970s but insists he only did so on a doctor’s recommendation, San Francisco Gate is reporting.
H. Brandt Ayers, 82, is the chairman of the board of a company that owns multiple small Alabama newspapers, including the Anniston Star, the Montgomery Advertiser and the Alabama Political Reporter. Back in the 1970s — 1973-1974 to be specific — Ayers was, by his own admission, “a very young man with more authority than judgment.” That authority, combined with an admitted lack of judgment, apparently led him to treat his employees with an attitude that was a bit outdated even then.
Specifically, he said, one of his female employees had been “psychologically ill.” To “treat” her, says Ayers, he went to her home and spanked her. He did so on the advice of a physician, he claims, who said that the spanking would “calm her down.” At least one source revealed the woman’s name, bucking the usual convention of not naming victims of sexual assault unless they come forward on their own, saying that the convention doesn’t apply because the woman is likely deceased.
A former reporter for the Anniston Star newspaper in Alabama accuses media magnate and former publisher H. Brandt Ayers of spanking female staffers https://t.co/FhG2lAz8pk
— New York Magazine (@NYMag) January 3, 2018
In another instance, according to New York Magazine, a woman who is still living and isn’t afraid to give her name — Veronica Pike Kennedy — said that she, too, was spanked by Ayers in the 70’s. On a Saturday morning in 1975, Kennedy, 22 at the time, and Ayers, pushing 40, were discussing an article Ayers had written. Kennedy playfully pretended not to know who wrote the article – a response that wasn’t to Ayers’ liking.
“You know what I do to bad girls? I spank them.”
Kennedy claims that Ayers then picked her and a chair up, forcefully bent her over, and struck her 18 times with a metal pica pole (a sort of ruler that was used in the days when newspapers were printed on ink and paper). She claims she tried to fight back, biting, kicking, and scratching at him.
“Well, that ought to teach you to not be a bad girl.”
Trisha O’Connor, now a Journalism professor who once worked under Ayers at the time, said that Ayers’ habit of spanking women was known around the industry, and that female employees were warned to avoid him at all costs. What’s more, Ayers himself — a progressive who championed civil rights causes at a time of deep racial divide in the country — even wrote a book in which he championed spanking.
Now in advanced age and out of direct, day-to-day operations of his newspapers, Ayers admits his wrongdoing ways.
“I did some things I regret.”
However, he refuses to resign his position, saying that he is the third generation of a newspaper-owning family and that the family has acted “honorably” and “in the public interest.”
According to Legal Match, the statute of limitations for sexual abuse in Alabama is three years.