*Tongues are wagging over the bombshell revelation this week that Tony Wafford, the West Coast Coordinator for the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network (NAN), has lost a sexual harassment and battery lawsuit that was filed last fall by his employee, Sharon Song Byrd. Song Byrd was a program administrator at the Palms Residential Center where Wafford ran Los Angeles County-funded AIDS/HIV programs.
Because of the case’s outcome, a coalition of African American women’s groups have angrily called for the resignation of Wafford and have threatened Sharpton with a possible boycott of his radio sponsors if demands are not met.
“Wafford is a sexual deviant and pervert, he should not be in a role of leadership with Rev. Sharpton or any other respectable leader,” declared Sister Lee of the Los Angeles Chapter of the Black Women’s Network (LAactivists@aol.com). “Now that Wafford has had his day in court, we want Sharpton to send a message that he respects black women and will protect us from those that represent him and his group. We support Sharpton, but we have no problem calling for a national boycott of him if black women don’t have his support.”
Wafford, who is well connected to many political and religious figures in Southern California, is scheduled to begin a new trial continuation hearing Monday (July 18, 2011) to determine the total amount of damages he must pay. The nine-day trial in Superior Court as reported by the LA Wave’s Betty Pleasant, revealed lurid details of egregious acts by Wafford in an attempt to get Song Byrd to have sex with him. Wafford, who incidentally, is married to a captain in the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, reportedly took his penis out of his pants in his office and told Song Byrd to “come and sit on it.”
Song Byrd said that during another unsavory encounter, she angrily rebuffed Wafford’s sexual advances which caused Wafford, who was wearing a huge diamond ring, to strike her on the hand. Song Byrd said that the incident caused inoperable nerve damage.
The jury ruled in Song Byrd’s favor, agreeing that the long suffering employee had been continuously and sexually harassed by Wafford; that he had committed a battery when he hit her and that he will have to pay all of Song Byrd’s medical bills as well as the services of a psychologist due to emotional distress.
Sharpton issued a response to EURweb through his spokesperson, Rachel Noerdlinger, stating that he and his National Action Network/NAN organization had not been advised of any of the allegations against Wafford by Sharon Song Byrd:
“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.”
EUR was able to get in touch with Song Byrd who seemed surprised that NAN had no knowledge of case. She said that as the head of the Los Angeles chapter Wafford was “obligated” to tell Rev. Sharpton of the charges against him. We’ll have more from Sharon Song Byrd in another report later today.
In the meantime, Wafford has fired the attorney who lost his case and will defend himself Monday at 10 a.m. in LA County Superior Court in another trial that will assess the non-economic damages he will pay Song Byrd, including emotional distress and pain and suffering.