Last month, WWAY-TV in Wilmington broadcast a truly juicy story, about a 17 year old Allen Strickland of Tabor City, North Carolina. His house was set on fire and he described on camera how he had to jump out of a second story window to escape the flames.
But it doesn't end there. In addition to his new house, Strickland also owned a $60,000 Corvette and a four wheeler, all purchased with money given to him by North Carolina's longest serving and most influential state senator R.C. Soles (D). Strickland said the 74 year old senator was his lawyer and had given him the money on the condition that he stay in school.
A reporter from WWAY-TV asked Sen. Soles about Allen Strickland ten minutes into a telephone interview. The senator developed a hearing problem, saying he couldn't make out the question, although, as the reporter pointed out, he hadn't had any trouble hearing the conservation for the last ten minutes. Then he hung up.
Although Sen. Soles would have liked it to end there, it didn't. In the weeks that followed , stories have come out about calls to the Tabor City police by Sen. Soles complaining of altercations with former clients, all young men in their teens and twenties. Each time, Soles refused to press charges.
Then a year old television interivew with another former client aired. In it. Stacey Scott accused the senator of molesting him when he was 15. He later recanted, saying that he was on drugs when he did the interview.
A couple days ago Strickland was arrested for setting the fire himself, and in a second incident, he led police on a high speed chase in the afore-mentioned Corvette which ended with him wrecking it. (Corvette lovers all over North Carolina are surely decrying the stupidity of allowing a 17 year old to have such a fine vehicle).
People in Tabor City and surrounding Columbus County are standing by the senator. When you live in one of the poorer counties in the state, it helps to have the most powerful state senator looking out for your interests.
But I'm sure, like everyone else in eastern North Carolina, they have to wonder about Sen. Soles' judgment. Helping someone pay his heating bill when he's down on his luck is generosity. Giving a teen-aged boy who's been in trouble with the law thousands of dollars to do with as he pleased is--well, the only word I can think of is idiocy. The sort where you just want to say "What the hell are you thinking?"
My husband and I have been watching the local news, eagerly awaiting the latest tidbit in this lurid story. It is a guilty pleasure to be sure, but I don't know how much longer "The RC and Allen Show" will continue.
I'm still waiting to find out why he gave money to all these unsavory, dangerous young men. There's more going on here than the senator wants us to know.
I can't wait to find out.