By WILL WHATLEY and TODD STACY, Alabama Daily News
J. William “Billy” McFarland, Jr., a Republican donor and former Judson College administrator, finds himself at the center of accusations of sexual misconduct toward college-aged women.
A lawsuit filed by a former student alleges McFarland propositioned her to participate in an online sexual relationship in which he would pay her $2,000 a month plus a “cash starting bonus” if she consented. The lawsuit was first reported by The Tuscaloosa News‘ Jason Morton and later by AL.com‘s Roy S. Johnson.
The lawsuit reads “Burt replied to McFarland stating, ‘Wow, an influential man like yourself messaging for roleplay,’ to which McFarland replied, ‘Lol. At least I’m honest.’”
McFarland told the Tuscaloosa News “[t]his lawsuit is nothing more than a #MeToo-style blackmail/extortion attempt. If I do not pay money on demand I am then threatened with a false complaint, designed to be embarrassing and humiliating, filed in the court system which then makes its way into the news. The allegations are completely false and just an attempt to try and publicly embarrass me.”
McFarland had been a candidate for State House in District 61, but dropped out of the race in March citing health reasons. Once named by the Alabama Republican Party as a “Rising Republican Star,” McFarland made himself useful to Democrats this last election cycle by attacking Attorney General Steve Marshall and supporting his democratic opponent, Joe Siegelman. McFarland donated to Siegelman, appeared in his advertisements, and issued statements to Marshall’s critics in the media.
“I’m voting for and financially supporting the campaign of Joe Siegelman, an honest leader who will stand up for Alabama and what’s right,” McFarland said in a press release accusing Marshall of conspiring to break campaign finance laws.
“In today’s politics, nothing is kept secret forever.”
The lawsuit isn’t McFarland’s first incident involving young women. According to records obtained by Alabama Daily News, a Marengo County judge issued a warrant for his arrest for Class C Harassing Communications toward a young woman in September 2017. McFarland later appeared in court and pleaded no contest, agreeing to pay court costs and restitution to the woman.
Multiple text and Facebook message conversations shared with Alabama Daily News show McFarland repeatedly striking up conversations with college-aged women asking if they want to make extra money, sometimes with blatant sexual overtones.
McFarland resigned his position at Judson College in April. In a statement to The Tuscaloosa News, Interim President Scott Bullard said the college “strongly opposes sexual harassment in any form and is committed to maintaining a positive and productive environment in which the dignity and worth of all people is respected.”
“Judson College encourages anyone who believes that they have been subjected to inappropriate conduct to report that conduct immediately. Judson College will take immediate and appropriate action in response to all such reports,” Bullard said.
A message to McFarland requesting comment for this story has not yet been returned.