When Lance Armstrong fell from his perch as a highly-respected survivor of cancer and seven-time winner of the Tour de France after admitting he lied for many years about his use of banned supplements, some of the clockers and watchers who watch such things said it is hard to expect much of heroes any more.
Many have fallen over the years and a couple of more joined the ranks this month when Bill Cosby finally admitted, after many denials, that he used drugs to coax sex from women over the years and Jared Fogle, the man who lost more than 300 pounds and became a Subway spokesman, is now under suspicion for child pornography.
Child pornography hits close to home in Floyd County. Businessman and sports announcer Greg Clabaugh and his war veteran son went to prison last year for possessing and distributing images of youngsters in sexual positions. A member of the county’s electoral board resigned after investigators found child porn on the computer he used in his office in the Courthouse. On May 26, Circuit Judge Marc Long sent 21-year-old Randy Lee Phillps to prison for 13 years, along with 45 years suspended, for 29 counts of possession of child pornography.
“I do believe you are a threat to society,” Long told Phillips at sentencing. “Child pornography is not a victimless crime.”
Commonwealth’s Attorney Eric Branscom said Phillips had received visitors at his home, including a 10-year-old.
“He understood what he was doing,” Branscom said. “He takes it lightly.”
Last week, former Floyd County Assistant Treasurer Kristie Turman admitted embezzling at least $36,012 from taxpayers from 2010 to 2014. She faces sentencing on October 6 on six counts of taking the money and another six counts of using a computer to try and hide the activity.
Next week, Richard Earl Bishop II faces multiple life sentences for several rapes of a 12 and 13 year old elementary school student in Floyd County. At his sentencing hearing before a jury, he claimed “it wasn’t rape, it was love.”
Earlier this year, Natasha Shishkevish, owner of the former Natasha’s restaurant in Floyd, entered a guilty plea to embezzlement when she failed to pay taxes to the town.
Auto repair show owner Joey Kaylor entered guilty pleas received suspended sentences on 14 counts of embezzlement for diversion of tax and benefit funds.
Real estate operator Terry Thompson was placed under a deferred sentence program in February for writing a bad check. If he keeps his nose clean until February 7, 2017, he might have the charge expunged.
When Lance Armstrong fell from grace in 2012, he told Juliet Marcur of The New York Times that it would take six months to a year to rebuild his reputation.
“He said his plan was to keep a low profile and quietly earn back public trust, partly by apologizing to the people he had stepped on or, in some cases, tried to destroy,” she wrote earlier this year. “The plan might have worked — if he had bothered to follow it.”
She cited Armstrong’s continued lies about his deception of SCA Promotions, one of his sponsors in cycling. An arbitration panel awarded SCA $10 million because, it said, Armstrong lies.
“Perjury must never be profitable,” the panel said, explaining that the case had presented “an unparalleled pageant of international perjury, fraud and conspiracy” on Armstrong’s part.
The panel added that “it is almost certainly the most devious sustained deception ever perpetrated in world sporting history” and that “deception demands real, meaningful sanctions.”
Marcur has followed and reported on Armstrong for years.
It all shows that Armstrong might have started out on a road to redemption two years ago, but that he took an early exit.
Truth is still not part of his daily vocabulary. This month, Armstrong received two traffic tickets in Aspen, Colo., on charges that he hit two parked cars and left the scene of an accident. But that was only after his girlfriend, Anna Hansen, had gotten those tickets. She initially told the police that she was driving on the night of the hit-and-run because Armstrong had been drinking, but she later admitted that she had lied because she didn’t want his name in the news.
So Armstrong’s great blueprint of winning back the public — tell the truth and reveal your goodness — wasn’t so great after all. After two years, has it faded so much that he can no longer make out the words? He continues to lie, and even had his girlfriend lie for him.
When the fall begins, the road down can be long and hard.