Wednesday, August 03, 2005

"It is entirely possible that the door fell open after making contact with my foot"

Oh, OK, he admits to deliberately kicking the door open. It's the physical altercation with the ex-fiancee where things get confusing.

Will Folks, Governor Sanford's former spokesman (shortly before this incident Folk had announced he would be leaving his post as spokesman on Aug. 1), was arrested on charges of criminal domestic violence after an incident at the house he and his ex-fiancee shared. The story made the big time media (i.e., tbogg).

Mr. Folks has decided to plead guilty, but before doing so, he wrote this editorial giving his side of the story; it appeared in the August 3 edition of The State.

At first, Mr. Folks said, he declined to comment on the allegations, partly on the advice of his family and lawyers, and partly because he "didn’t want to give the appearance of abusing [his] relationships with members of the media for personal gain."

Then he said, "To heck with that," and called member of the media Brad Warthen (The State's editorial page editor) and asked him to publish Folks's side of the story. Which Mr. Warthen did. An excerpt:

On the morning of July 22, I awoke at the home I shared with my former fiancee, took a shower and dressed for work. At around 8:30 a.m., before I’d gathered my belongings to depart for the office, a verbal argument ensued between the two of us that ended with her demanding that I leave our home. Seconds later, in walking to my car, I realized that my work bag, cell phone and cell phone bag were still inside.

I turned around and tried to re-enter our home, but discovered it had been locked with a chain. After repeatedly asking my former fiancee to open the front door, I did take the regrettable step of kicking it in. I shouldn’t have done it, but I was running late for work and felt it was completely unreasonable to be locked out of a home where I pay half the mortgage.

After retrieving what I needed from my office upstairs, I tried to leave the house again, only to find my former fiancee physically blocking the door from my office to our hallway. Much like a football player who makes a fake to avoid being tackled, I was successful in getting around her without significant contact. Quickly, however, she slid back in front of me and physically blocked me again, this time preventing me from descending our staircase.

Here is where our stories split. All I remember was that I made another move to try to pass by her and get out of the house. In making that move, it is entirely possible that I might have shoved her arm off my chest in an effort to loosen her grip so that I could move forward. She remembers it differently, and I am perfectly willing to admit that as I was trying to get her to let go of me, she may have lost her balance or been knocked off balance with sufficient momentum to cause a fall. Whatever happened, I know for a fact that I did not intentionally grab or shove her so as to cause her to fall.

I never set out to deliberately hurt anyone. What happened at our home that morning was an accident, not an attack. I don’t have a violent bone in my body, and everyone who knows me and has worked with me all these years will tell you that. Sure, I’m aggressive when it comes to my job, but when it comes to physical violence — it’s just not who I am.

Ooh, that doesn't look so good, does it? Folks should have listened to his lawyers. And his dad.

The story is kinda sad, and banal. If Folks wasn't Sanford's former spokesman, it'd never have made the news at all. But Warthen thought it was newsworthy, as he explains in his blog:

How often do you get a piece that gives readers a direct look into the thinking of a man charged with domestic violence? How often do you get such a piece from the governor's ex-spokesman? The short answer to that is, "Never." So on the basis of news value alone, it was an easy decision.

Warthen also tells what what he cut out of Folks's piece and why.


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