Suspect says Stanley owes Tennessee an apology - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Suspect says Stanley owes Tennessee an apology

Joel Watts (Source: WTVF) Joel Watts (Source: WTVF)
McKensie Morrison McKensie Morrison
Paul Stanley Paul Stanley
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MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - The man accused of trying to extort money from Tennessee State Senator Paul Stanley has broken his silence in an interview with a Nashville television station.

Nashville prosecutors have charged Joel Watts, 27, with trying to extort $10,000 from Stanley, threatening to reveal the lawmaker's relationship with intern McKensie Morrison.

"I had asked him for an apology in general," Watts said in an interview with Nashville television station WTVF. "I had asked this gentleman for an apology on the phone. It is recorded and documented. I never, ever, ever demanded and/or asked for money from this gentleman. I asked him for an apology."

Stanley has not admitted an affair with Morrison, but in sworn affidavits, TBI agents say both Stanley and Morrison admitted to a sexual relationship.

According to the affidavit of complaint, Watts found sexually provocative photos of his girlfriend - pictures that appear to have been taken in Stanley's apartment.  Watts is accused of threatening to release the pictures to the media unless Stanley gave him $10,000, but in the interview with WTVF, he denied attempted to extort the senator.

"I am not an extortionist," he said.

Rather, Watts said, the family values-oriented state senator misled the state of Tennessee.

"At the time, yes, I was mad at McKenzie. I was mad at him...during this time I was thinking this guy needs to be exposed, you know? I need to bring this house of cards down, because America needs to know what's going on," Watts said.

Watts said he blamed Stanley for taking advantage of Morrison.

"He was supposed to be a leader and had responsibilities as a leader to guide and direct his young interns in a correct manner," Watts said. "And he did not. Instead, he abused his power and let us all down."

"Senator Stanley, if you're listening, I think you owe your family, McKensie Morrison and America an apology," he said.

The alleged blackmail scheme occurred just weeks after Stanley found himself out of a job with broker-dealer Stanford Group Co. after the firm had its assets frozen for what the Securities and Exchange Commission called "massive fraud" by the company's owner and executives.

Stanley, who was a wealth adviser for the company's Memphis office, wasn't accused of any wrongdoing.

Stanley's legislative package is usually dominated by pro-business bills, but this year he was also the main sponsor of a measure to bar unmarried couples - including gays - from adopting children. The adoption measure failed in committee.

Stanley was first elected to represent suburban Memphis in the state House in 2000. He was elected to the Senate in 2006 and Ramsey appointed him in January as chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, which votes on nearly every piece of business-related legislation. He is the married father of two, according to the Legislature's Web site.

No telephone listings could be located for Morrison to obtain comment.

Connie Ridley, director of legislative administration, said Morrison was assigned to Stanley's office but stopped being paid her weekly $350 stipend after the senator reported that she had stopped coming to work beginning on April 17.

Copyright 2009 WMC-TV. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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