All Articles Tagged "Tony Wafford"
It has been a difficult week for National Action Network representative Tony Wafford and his associate/employer Rev. Al Sharpton. This past Monday, Wafford returned to court for a final hearing to determine additional damages to be awarded to his former employee Sharon Song Byrd.
With no fanfare or publicity, back on November 2, 2010, a jury returned a verdict in favor of Byrd, finding Wafford liable for sexual harassment and battery; causing permanent nerve damage to her hand. The jury awarded Byrd compensatory damages and punitive damages against Wafford, with the July 18 hearing to assess damages relative to pain, suffering and emotional distress.
It is believed the judge will return with the court’s decision as to the final monetary award in the coming days.
And if that wasn’t bad enough…
A coalition of African-American women’s groups have called for Wafford’s resignation and also threatened Rev. Sharpton with a boycott of his radio show sponsors.
But wait…there’s more.
The rabbit hole goes even deeper as Wafford is married to a captain in the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department. Beyond embarrassment by association given the verdict; during the trial there was much made of a report filed by Song Byrd to the Sheriff’s Department detailing the assault and battery. The report could not be produced during trial and is presently listed as “missing” by the LASD. A report filed with the Los Angeles Police Department was available for use during the trial.
According to Byrd, Wafford flew into a rage after having his advances repeatedly declined. The jury agreed that there was enough evidence to support Byrd’s account that Wafford forcibly struck her on the hand and his diamond ring caused inoperable nerve damage.
Read the court documents HERE.
Rev. Sharpton, through a spokesperson, has declined any knowledge of the suit prior to the story originally breaking last week and has argued that since Byrd worked for Wafford as a program administrator at the Palms Residential Care Center and not a National Action Network employee; any boycott connected to his radio program would be misplaced.
“National Action Network learned of the case today upon receiving your email and we have never been advised of any of the allegations against Mr. Wafford by Sharon Song Byrd. To our knowledge, NAN was not named in the lawsuit nor is Ms. Byrd a NAN employee but we take these allegations very seriously and ask you to share the lawsuit with us for our general counsel’s immediate review. While NAN has never been contacted by anyone affiliated with this case since last Fall, we are concerned that Rev. Sharpton and NAN are being brought in almost a year later, including threats against his radio show advertisers who have absolutely no affiliation with National Action Network.”
The irony is thick given the advocacy stances of the National Action Network over the years. Those who know Rev. Sharpton personally know that Wafford is his right-hand man and they have worked closely together for many years. The suggestion that Rev. Sharpton has been deceived and/or kept in the dark as to the police report, the lawsuit and its eventual verdict is being met largely with disbelief. It makes one wonder whether Sharpton would have been better served by saying nothing as opposed to claiming ignorance of the matter in knee-jerk fashion.
Nevertheless, the calls for Wafford’s resignation likely will not subside, and only intensify given the impending monetary judgment on the horizon. If Rev. Sharpton is truly an advocate for Black women, then he has no choice but to do the right thing…in the right time frame.
He demanded the same of Don Imus, the Duke Lacrosse team and countless others. The verdict in this case is already in, there’s nothing more to be decided in terms of liability; other than the monetary award.
Rev. Sharpton can allege ignorance prior to this moment but failure to act would only prove indifference and fully indict the authenticity of his many years of advocacy.
Morris W. O’Kelly (Mo’Kelly) is author of the syndicated entertainment and socio-political column The Mo’Kelly Report. For more Mo’Kelly, http://mrmokelly.com. Mo’Kelly can be reached at email@example.com and he welcomes all commentary. Follow Morris W. O’Kelly on Twitter: @mrmokelly