State Senator Paul Stanley of Germantown, one of the sponsors of an anti-gay adoption bill, was blackmailed by a man claiming the senator had taken nude photographs of his girlfriend while she served as his legislative intern in Nashville.
Joel Palmer Watts, 27, of Clarksville began calling and texting Stanley back in April, insisting the senator pay him $10,000 in exchange for the photos. Watts later told police Stanley had been in a sexual relationship with his girlfriend, Austin-Peay University student McKensie Morrison.
After receiving the calls and texts, Stanley reported the situation to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. The agency directed Stanley to help with a sting operation to net Watts for extortion and theft of property. The exchange took place at El Rey Azteca Mexican restaurant in Whites Creek near Nashville, and Watts was arrested.
Stanley, a self-described evangelical Christian, has not confirmed or denied a sexual relationship with McKensie. In a statement issued through his press secretary, Stanley said: “Unfortunately, I am the victim and a witness to a crime in an ongoing investigation."
Earlier this year, Stanley and Representative John DeBerry of Memphis co-sponsored a bill that would have banned adoption by unmarried couples.
For more on the Stanley debacle, check out Jackson Baker's story.