This story has been updated with additional information. The title has also been changed.
The Clay County Sheriff’s Office is making an inquiry into Clay County School Superintendent Addison Davis, based on local parent Leigh Ann Lunsford’s allegation that he attempted to intimidate and harass her. Davis denies it.
On July 12, the softball team Davis founded and of which he is currently president, Jacksonville Storm, was stripped of its National Championship after the team self-reported having two age-ineligible players on the roster, one of whom had played in the championship earlier that day. (The opposing team had protested during the second inning of the championship.) Lunsford told Folio Weekly that she posted an article about Davis and the team on Facebook; thereafter, she started receiving repetitive calls on her cell phone, fake social media accounts threatened her and demanded she remove the posts, and a traffic ticket from when she was 19 was put on Facebook, which included her home address. One Facebook comment states, “I was hoping all these post(s) regarding the situation were removed. Leigh ann Lunsford page coming next, online public records at its finest.”
She also said the superintendent repeatedly called her in an attempt to intimidate her. Phone records provided by Davis show that he called Lunsford a total of five times on July 15 and July 16. Davis denies that he was attempting to intimidate Lunsford. He also denies posting the traffic ticket from a fake Facebook account, or knowing who did.
Davis’ Chief of Staff Terri Dennis said, “Mr. Davis does not have any personal social media accounts. His school district accounts are managed by staff.”
On July 16, Lunsford reported the alleged harassment to the police. On July 18, we reported that police had confirmed that Davis was being “investigated.”
Later that day, Clay County Sheriff Darryl Daniels gave this statement in a press release: “A media source reported that our agency was ‘confirmed’ to be conducting an investigation concerning Clay County School Superintendent Addison Davis. That information is incorrect.
“We obtained information about a conversation held by the superintendent; however, it involved no unlawful activity. There is no investigation, though some have suggested otherwise.”
This statement appears to contradict text messages between our reporter and the sheriff, in which the reporter tells the sheriff that a local parent is likely to file a charge against Davis, to which he responds “oh boy.” The reporter later texts that media are going to come “down your way” regarding “this Addison drama,” and the sheriff states “no report,” presumably meaning that no report had been generated and/or filed, and “being investigated,” and “Det. Singletary is the investigator.” (See below.) The reporter also spoke with Daniels.
Last night, Addison Davis contacted Folio Weekly editor Claire Goforth via Michael Kerekes’ cell phone (Kerekes was also on the call) to take issue with the story. Davis again denied the allegations and existence of an investigation and asked for a retraction. Kerekes also denied the substance of a previous Folio Weekly story in which three women accused him of misbehavior.
Subsequently, Davis texted Goforth, “Thank you for taking the time to speak this evening. I look forward to your response due to the magnitude, inaccuracy, and fabricated information in the attempt to defame my reputation. I sincerely hope this article is removed. Thank you again. Respectfully, Ad.”
Davis also texted cell phone records and a screenshot of an email sent to him by Lunsford, the contents of which she confirms. The phone records confirm that he called Lunsford three times on Sunday, twice around 10 a.m. and once at 9:17 p.m. (see below); in addition, he called twice on July 16, when they spoke for several minutes.
In the July 16 email to Davis, Lunsford wrote, “Since I shared the article regarding your softball team … I have been the target of online threats and harassment. I am no way accusing you of facilitating this, but would be appreciated if you could reiterate to your following that this is illegal … I’ve reported all to the CCSO and if needed will pursue every avenue. You and I can have our differences without the need for illegal activities.” (See below.)
This morning, CCSO spokesperson Deputy Chris Padgett confirmed that Detective Singletary has been assigned to the matter and was following up with Lunsford again this morning, which she independently confirmed. However, Padgett insists that the term “investigation” is an improper description.
“I would consider what Ms. Lunsford and the detective discussed as an inquiry,” Padgett said, later adding, “We have no criminal investigation.” He said that Lunsford and Singletary had together come “to the assumption that there was no unlawful activity.”
After speaking with Sheriff Daniels, Padgett confirmed in a follow-up conversation that the sheriff spoke with our reporter on July 18. He did not confirm nor deny the substance of the text messages. Asked whether a text referencing a matter “being investigated” could lead to the conclusion that an investigation is being conducted, Padgett said, “I can see how it does.”
“We talk a lot of jargon,” he added. He also said that, per the sheriff, CCSO will provide Folio Weekly with updates on the inquiry as such becomes available.
Also this morning, Lunsford said that she was taken aback by the sheriff’s statement denying the existence of an investigation. “It made me feel like crap. I wanted to prevent this from happening is why I went to [them] for protection,” she said.
“According to my knowledge, there is an investigation,” Lunsford said. “We don’t know if it’s criminal.”
Lunsford added that while Davis calling her isn’t criminal, she believes it does “cross a boundary line” for the superintendent to contact the parent of a child who attends school in the district regarding a Facebook post unrelated to the school system, particularly as they have no real personal relationship. She said that the extent of their prior communication consisted of a disagreement in the spring. “We had some contention words back in May over the whole walk-out issue, which I feel like, it kind of set the tone, because back when we had the issues in May and he called me, he brought up my child.”
She says that she was frightened when he called again this week. “It set me off, not that I was upset, I was scared … for him to call me about something that has nothing to do with the school district and I’m one of 1,000 that shared it, I’m terrified.”
“When he reiterated, ‘Your child at Fleming Island High School,’ I was done. You’re not going to bring my child into it.”
Lunsford says that after she talked to Davis, all phone calls and Facebook harassment stopped.
“I don’t take his phone calls on Sunday, the harassment starts. I take his phone call on Monday, tell him I talked to the Clay County Sheriff’s Office, the harassment stops. Those are facts.”