An Alabama police chief has been suspended after posting on social media what he described as “jokes” about sexual assault accusations that are dominating the state’s race for a U.S. Senate seat.
Al.com reported last week that Killen Police Chief Bryan Hammond had made flippant comments about sexual abuse on Facebook in reaction to a local news report about Beverly Young Nelson, a woman who last week accused Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore of sexual assaulting her decades ago, when she was 16 and he was in his 30s.
“Silence is consent,” Hammond wrote in the Facebook thread, later making what he called a “sarcastic” quip about Moore’s rival in Alabama’s Dec. 12 special election, Democrat Doug Jones.
“On another note, Doug Jones fondled me on a boy scout camping trip in 1978,” Hammond wrote. “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.”
Al.com published a screenshot of part of the Facebook exchange, which has since been deleted from the social media site.
Hammond, who has served as police chief in the small town of Killen since 2012, told Al.com that the story about Jones wasn’t true. “That was sarcasm,” he said.
He also defended his “silence is consent” comment, saying he had been referring to what he described as a lack of public outrage toward sexual abuse allegations that surfaced last week against Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn).
“One of the others misunderstood the intent of that phrase, so I clarified what my intent was immediately after,” Hammond told the Florence, Alabama, Times Daily. “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” ― referring to Jones.
Hammond stressed that he’d merely been “joking” with a friend when he’d made his comments and had not expected them to be read by the wider public.
The Times Daily reported on Tuesday that Mayor Tim Tubbs had suspended Hammond from his job for 15 days without pay.
“I’m disappointed with what happened. I expect better of [Hammond] and all the employees of the town of Killen,” Tubbs said.