There are many surprising elements in a story we're seeing out of Talladega, Ala., where the city's mayor, 74, was assaulted, allegedly by his TV and radio co-host, 71. The case includes allegations of a sex tape featuring the mayor and his former friend's soon-to-be ex-wife.
Mayor Larry Barton was attacked in a parking lot Saturday morning by someone wearing a hood and wielding a bat. Barton says the assailant was Benny Green, a longtime friend of the mayor's with whom he hosted a call-in show on public-access TV called In the Interest of the People.
Green was arrested and charged with first-degree assault this week.
"The suspect attempted to flee the scene on a bicycle, however bystanders managed to intervene and detain him until our arrival," according to a police statement about Green's arrest.
Barton, who is married, hasn't said what might have sparked a dispute between him and Green — but AL.com reports that "Green's former divorce lawyer, Steward Springer, said he understands why Green has reason to beat Barton 'as Barton was caught on hidden video having sex with Green's wife.' "
Springer tells The Anniston Star that the video came from a surveillance camera that Benny Green set up in the back of a liquor store run by his wife, Charlotte. The Star reports:
"Springer said he has seen at least part of the tape, and while he declined to go into explicit detail, he did describe the acts shown as 'full blown' and added 'it gives me hope for when I'm 70.' "
The tape was recorded before the Greens began their divorce proceedings, Springer says.
Barton has refused to comment on the alleged video, other than to say that it's illegal to film people without their consent. The Star relays that the mayor "says it is no secret that he has an office in the store and has handled the books there for some time."
Saturday's attack put Barton in the hospital until Tuesday. He says the assault began after he parked at the barbershop where he cuts hair. The mayor says he was set upon after opening his car door, with blows landing on his head, face and legs, and that he might have been more badly injured if he hadn't fought back.
"He was dead-set to kill me," Barton said when he called in to this weekend's edition of In the Interest of the People — which, we'll note, was co-hosted by Charlotte Green, who replaced her husband as Barton's sidekick in 2012.
During that recent show, Barton refused to identify his attacker, other than to say he is "a thug, he's a coward."
When Barton said that only he and "the other guy" know the truth about what happened, Charlotte Green responded by saying, "Good."
Barton, who has been campaigning for re-election, is now home from the hospital. His four terms as mayor date back to the 1990s, when he was convicted of fraud and money-laundering and served several years in prison.
The most recent developments prompted Talladega's newspaper The Daily Home to urge Barton to resign from office if the sex-tape allegations are true.
"We wish the mayor a speedy recovery," the newspaper said in an editorial. "But we also wish the same for our sleepy little town."