AL Local Police Chief Suspended Over ‘Sarcasm’ About Jones, Child Sex Abuse

Alabama Democrat Senate candidate Doug Jones speaks to the media, Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017, in Birmingham, Ala. Jones runs against former judge Roy Moore. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
Brynn Anderson/AP

A local Alabama police chief was suspended without pay after making remarks he later claimed were “sarcasm,” accusing Democratic Senate candidate Doug Jones of inappropriately touching him decades earlier.

Killen Police Chief Bryan Hammond was suspended for 15 days without pay, AL.com reported, after posting on Facebook that “silence is consent.”

“On another note, Doug Jones fondled me on a Boy Scout camping trip in 1978,” Hammond wrote in a comment, according to AL.com. “I wasn’t gonna say anything, but I just couldn’t stand the thought of him being a senator. I was ok with it until now. By the way, you can’t see me right now but I’m crying as I type this.”

Hammond told AL.com in a phone interview that none of his claims were true and that he was joking.

“That was sarcasm,” Hammond said.

In a statement to local station WHNT, Hammond said he made the remark about silence being equivalent to consent (it isn’t) “in reference to people ignoring accusations from the opposing side” of political debates.

“One of the others misunderstood the intent of that phrase, so I clarified what my intent was immediately after,” Hammond claimed. “After explaining that it was in reference to the shoe being on the other foot, I gave an example by producing a similar example using the other candidate in my example.”

He said a reporter contacted him about the comment, and said he explained “that the example was in no way true and I had never even met the candidate.”

“I am truly sorry for any of my comments that may have been offensive to anyone,” Hammond said. “I never meant for the comments to be taken seriously, they were meant only as a joke with a friend.”

WHNT captured screenshots of the conversation, which show Hammond’s remarks in limited context. Hammond also made the untrue claim that Jones signed his yearbook, an apparent reference to a similar claim one of Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore’s accusers made in a press conference.

Beverly Young Nelson, one of several women who have come forward with allegations of sexual misconduct against Moore, claimed Moore signed her yearbook when she was in high school, and has offered to hand over the yearbook to Congress so she and Moore can testify under oath on the subject.

Moore has denied all the allegations against him.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Esme Cribb is a newswriter for TPM in New York City. She can be found on Twitter @emquiry and reached by email at esme@talkingpointsmemo.com.

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