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Jones goes on record on ‘Ask Your Neighbor’

Embattled Anderson County Circuit Court Clerk William Jones appeared this morning on “Ask Your Neighbor” to give his first, non-written, public statement on the sexual harassment allegations that have been made against him by at least seven women.

Against the advice of his attorney, Jones called in to the program and read a prepared statement.

Assistant Anderson County District Attorney Ryan Spitzer also called the show–not in his official capacity, but rather as the husband of one of Jones’ accusers–to respond to Jones’ statement. Spitzer said that “this has nothing to do with Rex [Lynch, Jones’ opponent in the May 1st primary). This has got to do with William Jones saying inappropriate things to those women that work for him, and he doesn’t have the decency to resign?”

Jones is being challenged in the Republican primary for Circuit Court Clerk by former County Mayor Rex Lynch, who was forced to resign that office in 2011 after being indicted on sales tax fraud charges.

Two more women, as we reported last week, were emboldened by the ongoing media coverage of the scandal and have come forward with more allegations against Jones. We are awaiting the completion of the Human Resources Department’s investigation and once that information becomes available, we will pass it along to you.

The following is a transcript of his statement:

“Over the past couple weeks, allegations were raised of sexual harassment and a hostile work environment set forth by my office.

First and foremost, I would like to say thank you for all the support myself and my wife have received from this community who can see this political attack for what it is.

I would like to deliver this statement today to put an end to these false allegations.

We are witnessing a well-orchestrated attack in an attempt at a character assassination from my opponent’s campaign and the people behind him. In early September, a rumor had made its way to me that my opponent was telling of what was to come. That something big was going to come out about me in his attempt to challenge me.

After my opponent announcing his campaign in early September, a process began with women being interviewed by Russell Bearden who resigned from his office shortly after the allegations.

It is peculiar that the timing that these allegations have been released 60 days outside of an election. I am ashamed that there are those in our community, our home, that would stoop to such low levels.

We have seen this for far too long in our community.

It is time it stops. I tell you today and those behind these political attacks that I am here to stay.

The good old boy system that Anderson County has been ran and strangled by for far too long is coming to an end.

In year one of taking my office, we saved the taxpayers $100,000 and have continued, and will continue to find savings within the office to protect your hard-earned money. We have done good work.

I ask you, the people of Anderson County, to see this blatant attempt to hurt my family for what it is. I ask that you stand by my wife and I as we say enough is enough.

Together, we will not back down. Together, we will continue to work to earn your vote. My office will continue to work to save your tax dollars, and I will continue to fight the system that has strangled Anderson County for so long.”

About Jim Harris

Jim Harris has been WYSH's News & Sports Director since 2000. In addition to reporting local news, he is the play-by-play voice for Clinton High School football, boys' and girls' basketball and baseball. Catch Jim live weekdays beginning at 6:20 am for live local news, sports, weather and traffic plus the Community Bulletin Board, shenanigans with Ron Meredith and more on the Country Club Morning Show on WYSH & WQLA. Jim lives in Clinton with his wife Kelly and daughter Carolina, his mother-in-law and cats Lucius and Oliver.

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8 comments

  1. Listening to Mr. Jones speak this morning only further confirms the likelihood of some misconduct going on in his office. Yes, it is unclear at this moment what exactly happened, and if he faces legal ramifications then due process should be adhered to. However, using the phrase “due process” in every instance to rebut claims is foolish and incomprehensible when these claims are relating to public opinion and his employees. His public statement addressed none of the issues or claims. His only statement regarding his innocence was one general remark to “false allegations” rather than addressing a lack of evidence or a lack of improper conduct on his part. He hid behind the statement that his opponent had something to do with these claims with absolutely no evidence and a baseless general statement. He claims these allegations are false, yet the sexual harassment allegations have 10 times more evidence than his “good ole boys” claim against Rex. I voted for Mr. Jones in the last election; however, his true character has shown. I feel sorry that his wonderful wife is stuck in this mess. It was a very poor statement where he didn’t address the allegations and made several political statements against his opponent and about saving some money. He claims he’s against the good ole boys system, yet his entrenchment and baseless denials and attacks show he has become one of them. I will certainly not be voting for Mr. Jones again, and I believe he should resign.

    • I agree with everything you just said, with a couple of minor differences. Both Joneses are major players in the AC GOP, and were ultimately responsible for this situation. Here’s why. Ron Meredith used the word “defiant” this morning and rightly so. They all think that they can do whatever pleases them, and woe upon those who call them out. Mayor Frank showed her defiance last week when she offhandedly crowed on the air that she didn’t have to tell HR or anyone what she was doing. She only signed the censure a week after the fact because she saw that she had to distance herself, but previously refused to sign not only that, but also the harassment policy. Jones was defiant when he told HR that no one could remove him. That chief of staff was defiant in hanging his sovereignty sign out in a public building. The building inspector is defiant in still not having all of his required certificates after 5 years, and again, the mayor won’t fire him…defiant again. The clerk and the register flipped parties out of fear of this regime. So in the end, you created a brand new batch of good ole boys, little more than aging schoolyard bullies, and now they’re eating each other for survival. Be defiant all day long, but I’m not voting for any of that crew. Time for a clean slate.
      I also have a question for anyone to answer: can the circuit court judges at least ban Jones from their courtrooms pending investigation? I would think that it would intimidate female jurors or witnesses to see that man even showing his face in our courtrooms, let alone reading instructions on courtroom rules to them. The judges should ban him or put him on leave if they are allowed.

      • His wife was responsible for his misconduct? That’s irrational to say and completely meritless. To blame his wife for the messages and statements he allegedly made makes no sense. Also, very confused by your bringing up the chief of staff, the building inspector, and the register? You’re sounding like Mr. Jones bringing up a completely irrelevant personally political statement when this article is about something else. Your claim is completely baseless regarding the mayor signing the censure to “distance herself?” She signed the censure the day after commission signed it the night before which does not indicate any distancing or after the factness. So the whole commission and mayor censured Jones out of self-interest? You seem to have political opinions which is fine, but we are talking about Jones here not the Anderson County candidate pool. Your opinions regarding the building inspector are also comical as the malicious prosecution lawsuit against Jay Yeager was just ruled to proceed and the motion to dismiss denied so if you should call anyone out for “defiance” it would be Mr. Yeager which I seem to not be able to find in your response?

        https://www.knoxnews.com/story/news/crime/2018/02/26/anderson-country-jay-yeager-david-crowley-tennessee/360289002/

        Regarding your question, I would presume circuit court judges could not ban Jones. There has been no legal process begun against him and also his role in the court does not involve any situation where he could intimidate female jurors or witnesses. You could potentially make that argument if it was Dave Clark as district attorney who was accused but Mr. Jones seems to be a stretch and would likely not be allowed by the judges. Preventing Jones from doing his job before any legal process or charges filed would likely leave the possibility of repercussions against the county in my opinion.

        • As expected, your reply is somewhat manipulative. I certainly would not blame Mrs. Jones for her husband’s behavior. She is another victim of it. What I said was that the Jones’s are executive officers of the AC GOP, who created and developed the culture which allowed Mr. Jones and the others I mentioned to walk around the courthouse acting like the rules don’t apply to them and they can do whatever they want to do without consequences. Ron used the word defiant. Most people just say it’s arrogant. Now it’s possibly criminal.
          The fact that that we have different opinions and disagree on many points is fine and we both have every right to them. But to compare me in any way to Mr. Jones, who by these accounts is likely a sexual predator, is unnecessary. I honestly hope that you are a better person than to do that.
          The timeline between the commission resolution for censure and resignation and Ms. Frank’s signature can be verified. Ron reported on this radio station on the morning after the commission meeting of 2/20/18 about the resolution signed by commission but not Mayor Frank. He expressed that he was puzzled that she didn’t. A conservative blogger (and AC GOP member) on another website, weloveandersoncounty.com, also reported this on 2/21, and took it a step further by calling for Mayor Frank to sign it. On Friday, 2/23/18, Ron announced on WYSH that he received a call that Mayor Frank signed the resolution “this morning.” The other website followed suit by Monday, thanking the Mayor for her signature. Looking back, I should not have said “a week,” but 2 business days is still plenty of time for the Jeopardy music to stop and decide what would serve her best interests. By these accounts, it was in no way immediate.
          To say that a criticism of Ms. Frank is a criticism of AC commission is a funny stretch. Isbel, Wandell, Meade, and others are kind, honest, hard working public servants. And at various points during her term in office, Mayor Frank has slandered each of them when they don’t do things her way. Voters don’t have that kind of memory loss, sorry.
          Yes, I saw that Hugh Ward is representing another frivolous lawsuit for more tax dollars. I also have no love for Jay Yeager, and called for his resignation in my comment on the WYSH article about his comments on the Jones issue. Take a look and see. In my opinion, both he and Frank should go. It’s the only way this bickering will ever stop. If they want to continue fighting, they can go home and do it with their own time and money.
          I don’t know the DA, so I have no opinion of him. My question stemmed from news articles over the years talking about how police officers all over the country are often suspended or reassigned when under investigation for wrongdoing. I was just wondering if anything similar was possible in this situation, that’s all. Thank you for your insights on that.
          I also thank you for your later comment about these 7 women not possibly going through this for small town politics. It was well stated, I agree completely, and truly, truly feel that it should be (or have been) the last word on this issue so I am leaving this conversation at that excellent point. Thank You.

  2. I’m not a man who cries, but I got a lump in my throat hearing Ryan Spitzer talking today.
    Guess what. If our choice is between a guy who tried to do a slick deal on a truck to dodge taxes or a guy who would do these things to any of our wives and daughters at work, it’s not a tough call. I’ll be voting for Rex. No problem.

  3. Voter’s choice: (1) Lynch — CONVICTED of felony sales tax fraud (which is basically stealing from TN taxpayers) and which he did while he was Mayor of Anderson County and therefore a steward of all county taxpayer funds,

    OR
    (2) Jones — incumbent Circuit Court Clerk — about whom sexual harassment ALLEGATIONS have been made, but with no official action actually taken against him, during his re-election campaign.

    Felony conviction (Lynch) or civil allegations (Jones).

    Don’t let dirty politics steer you away from William Jones!

    • Both are terrible candidates and wish we could be rid of them both. I’ve been steered away from William Jones and will be voting for neither candidate. I question the influence of the statement that it is a politically motivated false allegation when it was made by 7 different women in a local county clerk campaign. Let’s not try to call this “dirty politics” when that would involve getting 7 different women make a false accusation in order to win a small local race such as this. That is a blatant cop-out used to cover up for Jones just long enough to get to election day.

  4. It’s pretty pathetic that this is what Anderson County has come too. We have two leaders in this county who run smear campaigns every chance they get. Terry Frank and William Jones hide behind the labels “conservative” and “Christian” when they don’t attend church on a regular basis, attack fellow conservatives personally and bear no such fruit of living a moral/ethical life. If Rex or anybody else were merely “accused civilly” of this kind of behavior (let a lone a democrat) we would see an uproar like never before from these guys and gals. So give me a break. William Jones is a predator, everyone knows that who has ever known him. Terry Frank pretends to be conservative but she isn’t, let’s just be real Anderson County. Come on, these guys promised to turn things around for us. They haven’t, they’re not interested in it, they just do what all the others do. Time for new leadership!!

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