Submitted By Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger
An interesting story out of Appomattox, Virginia, and one that hits closer to home than I originally thought. Anti-Gay lobbyist and former deputy clerk of the Virginia House of Delegates, Linda Wall, wants to put her conservative ideology to work for the citizens of Appomattox, Virginia in the election for the Commonwealth’s 59th District House seat. Running as an independent, she describes herself as a “Republican-leaning conservative.” Her campaign slogan is: “A Campaign of Protection and Restoration.” But the place where our Country was reunited in 1865, is wondering just what kind of “protection” she’s talking about and has a real dilemma on its hand since Wall admitted a lesbian affair with one of her junior high students in the early 1970s.
The choice to replace retiring and venerable Virginia statesman, Watkins Abbitt, has become a free-for-all since the revelation of the affair by unsuccessful Republican challenger, Paul Jost. Jost sued Wall and State Senator Tommy Norment for defamation after a particularly contentious primary fight for Norment’s seat. The election still holds the record for spending (almost $1 Million each) in a non-general election.
Jost sued Norment and Wall for libel and slander after Wall claimed that Jost offered her $50,000 to drop out of the 2003 Senate primary against Norment and instead challenge another Republican senator. Wall later abandoned her candidacy for other reasons and publicly characterized Jost’s offer as a bribe. Norment repeated her claim as part of a nomination fight that Norment, now the Senate Minority Leader, eventually won.
In 2006, a deposition of Wall by was taken by Jost’s attorney, Howard Hogan, and the questioning went like this.
Q: Have you ever been asked, formally or informally, to leave any other positions, that we haven’t discussed already?
A: Let’s see. Yeah, there was a teaching job, one time, in Prince George County. That they asked me if I would not come back.
Q: What was the specific job?
A: There was a parent that was — what was the job?
A: I was teaching.
Q: For whom?
A: PE. Um, Prince George Junior High, I think was the name of the school.
Q: And you were a PE teacher for Prince George?
Q: And roughly what time period was this?
A: Early ’70s. Sometime in the ’70s.
Q: Why were you asked to leave?
A: A parent was upset with me, and they just felt like I should move on.
Q: And why were they upset with you?
A: They asked whether there was some misbehavior with their daughter.
Q: What was the specific misbehavior alleged?
A: Uh, they alleged that I had an affair with their daughter.
Q: And how did you find out about this allegation?
A: They called me in.
Q: Who called you in?
A: The superintendent.
Q: The superintendent called you in?
Q: And what did the superintendent say?
A: He either wanted to try to go to court to prove it, or for me to leave. And at the time, my mother was ill, and there was emotional things going on in my life, and I didn’t want to deal with it, because I was — I wanted out of teaching anyway.
Q: So you resigned or were you fired?
A: (Indicating yes.) Resigned.
Q: Was the allegation true or not?
A: Uh, it was an allegation, and there was no effort made to try to prove it.
Q: Did you have an affair with the student or not?
Q: And, please, define affair.
A: Lord have mercy. Is this about me or this lawsuit?
Q: I just want to know why you were fired …
A: I wasn’t fired.
Q: … or asked to resign from this job?
A: They thought I was having an affair with their daughter.
Q: Just to be clear, we’re talking about sexual relations with a minor?
Q: Thank you.
The 61 year-old Wall says the affair was a “youthful mistake,” and that God has “cured her” of her homosexuality. The former gym teacher is now an “ex-Gay” she claims. Wall even went on to “educate” the voters about just how one becomes involved in a homosexual affair in the first place. “I call what’s going on today criminal in telling people they’re born [gay] when there’s no scientific evidence to prove that anymore,” Wall said.
“Most people don’t want to go to the ‘s’ word today, which is the word ‘sin,’ but that’s how I’m going to label it because I believe the Bible is the word of God.” She said she spent two years researching “myths” and “lies” about homosexuality. “For example,” Wall said, “[a woman] that never bonded with her mother; that mother-daughter bond was never very close.” Wall said that could be one reason why some women turn to homosexuality. “I was heartbroken by a guy and that’s another characteristic,” she said. “Many women have been molested in the past or raped. I do not have any of that in my past,” Wall said.
Wall also says she’s changed now. The owner of Linda’s Buttons and Fun Fotos in Appomattox, Virginia and smack dab in the middle of Jerry Falwell’s Bible Belt , pleads “I was a heavy pot smoker with … impaired judgment and made some bad choices.” Like sexually preying on a 14-year-old kid! I’d have to agree that is an exceptionally “bad choice.” Gotta love those euphamisms for felonies — allegedly, of course.
And Wall finds nothing ironic about her lobbying efforts in support of Virginia’s marriage Amendment which defines “marriage” as the union of one man and one woman. “For two years, I worked with groups in the state to help pass the Marriage Amendment to the Constitution of Virginia defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman,” she said. “I will defend that amendment and oppose any legislation that attempts to create or recognize any other union, partnership, or legal status to which is assigned the rights or benefits of marriage.”
For his part, the conservative Jost says his revelation of the deposition is doing the citizens of the Commonwealth a public service. “I did it because it shows Linda Wall is not fit to hold public office,” he said. “Really?,” said me. Seems like a little payback, too, given the timing — but one that benefits the public, as well. The other candidates –Republican Matt Farris and Democratic hopeful, Connie Brennan — have gone dark on the story so far.
There is no statute of limitations on most felonies in Virginia, so Wall could be still prosecuted, said Prince George County Police Sgt. Michael Taber. But for that to happen, the victim would have to come forward and file a complaint, he said. “If it’s a felony — especially on a sexual offense — there’s not going to be an expiration on that,” Taber said. And if I know Prince George Commonwealth’s Attorney Jay “C” Paul (and I do), he’s not going to ignore it either.
As I mentioned earlier, this one hits close to home. I was a student at J.E.J. Moore Junior High School in the early 1970s. Ms. Wall was the new gym teacher there, fresh from her graduation from Longwood College, an iconic state teacher’s college located in Farmville. I recall Ms. Wall as being friendly and interested in her students, but there were rumors. We passed them off as the usual junior high claptrap. Seems we were wrong.
On an ironic side note, Wall is running against Matt Farriss. Farriss, a conservative Republican, has his own skeletons. In 2002, Farris was the subject of an emergency protective order obtained against him by a local woman, and was convicted in separate incidents for holding a concealed weapon and drunk driving.
Ain’t family values grand?
Is what happened 40 years ago irrelevant as the perpetrator has found religion and become a different person? Or can a leopard never change its spots and this disturbing admission is so heinous as to disqualify Wall from public service?
What do you think?
~Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger