Not Your Typical Rapist
'Popular' ex-jailer wins parole support from unlikely sectors
By Alex De Grand

Talk to the victims of former Franklin County jailer and current convict Hunter Hay, and under all the hurt and anger is the bottom line: Fear.

Yet his upcoming bid for parole is supported by high-profile members of the Lexington community, including Wayne Smith, the retired senior minister of Southland Christian Church.

The victims continue to attest that they are terrified of Hay, the man convicted and sentenced to 10 years in 1995 for 11 sex-related felonies against them, including rape, attempted rape, sodomy and sexual abuse, while they worked at the jail in Frankfort.

The fear resurfaces as Hay is due to make a plea for parole August 7. His victims will have a chance on July 31 to speak to the Kentucky Parole Board.

"He's evil. He's actually evil," one of the women said of Hay. (ACE does not publish the names of sex crime victims.)

The women recall Hay as the ex-Marine with a wild temper who ruled his jail through intimidation and severely punished those who crossed him.

They speak of a man who settled out of court an inmate's lawsuit charging Hay with pouring hot coffee on his head and neck while handcuffed and shackled and while guards held him to the floor in 1992. The women remember a man convicted of intimidating a witness and violating the state's whistleblower law.

"You did what he said or he made you pay the consequences," one victim said. "The atmosphere at the jail was 'Hunter is God and no one could touch him.'"

The women explained that they didn't quit even after all the abuse they suffered because with only a high school diploma, no one wanted to lose a county job with good pay and solid benefits.

"The thing Hunter always told me was, 'You can work at McDonalds,'" one woman said.

"I didn't quit because I was a single parent with two daughters," she continued. "I wouldn't let my kids live under a bridge... You don't understand until you're in that position."

Hay was contacted in prison to be interviewed for this story, but he declined.

Attempts to interview family members were also unsuccessful. Geno Guarnieri, Hay's brother-in-law and owner of Geno's Formal Wear in Lexington, said it was the family's decision to say nothing to the media, although he repeated Hay's claims of innocence.

The women said they will do all they can to keep Hay in prison.

"I'll ask the parole board 'Please don't let him out,'" one woman said. "I'll say, 'Look at all the victims he had. We're scared if he gets out. He's never shown remorse. He's never acknowledged his crimes. I'm scared for my family.'"

But despite their stories, the women are afraid Hay will be released. After all, they reason, Hay is not your typical rapist.

In Franklin County's 1993 primaries, Hay received more votes than any other candidate running for office and was so popular he even appeared in a TV spot for Sen. Wendell Ford. To this day, there are still people in Franklin County who support Hay.

And Hay's friends aren't just in Franklin County.

"Hunter is a Jeckyl and Hyde," one victim said. "In public, he had such a good personality. In private, he is just evil."

"He could make people believe he was so wonderful," added another woman.

To the victims' dismay, one letter supporting Hay's parole is from retired minister Wayne Smith, founder of Southland Christian Church, whose web page claims over 6,000 in attendance for Sunday morning services broadcasted to half the state on ABC affiliates.

The women believe Smith hasn't seen the other side of Hay.

"Hunter has been separated from his family for the five years (1,825 days)," Smith wrote. "That's a long time. His daughters are now 11 and 16. They have not had a father in their home since they were 6 and 11. Hunter has never had a disciplinary write-up, although he has been threatened, taunted and assaulted."

"I served the Southland Christian Church in Lexington as senior minister for 40 years. I have known Hunter and his wife, Adele, for 17 years. I have the time and interest to work with Hunter, Adele and their daughters. I realize each crime has its own unique features, however, I read often of cases that appear to be more serious and yet require less time to be served.

"In closing, I ask again that I may use my 51 years of ministry to help this family, Hunter and Adele love each other, a good job awaits Hunter, and he has been a model prisoner. Please let him come home. He has paid a tremendous price. Two young girls and a wife need Hunter," Smith concluded.

For the victims, Smith's words are painful to read.

"I feel sorry for Hunter's kids too," one woman said. "But Hunter did that to them. Not us. And what about our kids? Hunter has threatened them."

The women are convinced Hay will try to seek revenge on them.

"I can guarantee he's sitting in jail right now thinking of what to do to us," one woman said.

The women feel this way not just because they consider Hay a vindictive man who "can hold a grudge for a long time," but because Hay doesn't admit to doing anything wrong.

Indeed, after being imprisoned, Hay filed a lawsuit against dozens of people in state and county government, the FBI, Kentucky State Police and the U.S. attorney's office among others.

Hay argued he was the victim of an elaborate conspiracy orchestrated by Gov. Paul Patton and his supporters aimed at preventing him from aiding the Republican opposition in the 1995 gubernatorial election.

Hay believed his strong political base in Franklin County made him such a political threat, he had to be neutralized.

Additionally, Hay argued he was targeted because he opposed a juvenile justice bill during the 1994 legislative session.

Hay's suit was practically laughed out of court.

A magistrate's report commented Hay's allegations were "disjointed, rambling and often illogical."

For Hay's victims, however, it is no laughing matter.

The women talked about how hard it already is to live in a small town like Frankfort where they see Hay's wife frequently and they often hear insults and complaints from his old friends. They expect it will be far more hard - even scary - when Hay is eventually released.

"We will have to look over our shoulders 24 hours a day," a woman said. "He won't try to avoid us. He'll do the opposite."

"My daughter plays basketball with Hunter's daughter. I would die if I came to a game and found him sitting there," the woman said.

The women want to leave Frankfort.

In 1997, they won a civil lawsuit against Franklin County government for failing to protect them from Hay's abuse despite their repeated complaints to county officials and were awarded more than $5 million.

The women want to use that money to relocate, but the county has tied up the judgment in appeals court, arguing that it is protected from liability by state law. In April, various women's groups from Louisville and Lexington called on the current Franklin County judge executive, Teresa Barton, to honor her campaign pledge to work for a settlement, but they reported no success.

Barton declined to comment on the case.

The women consider Barton's failure to live up to campaign promises just one more slap in the face throughout this ordeal.

"It's not just Hunter anymore," a woman said. "It's the county, the grand jury, the trials, the people asking 'Why'd you do that to that nice man?'"

One woman spoke of the traumatic experience through the courts "where they bring out your whole private life and they ask anything and they tell you how you deserved what happened to you."

"After a while, you start to believe it," the woman continued. "You think, 'Maybe I am guilty. Maybe I did do something wrong.'"

The women said if they had to do it all over again, they probably wouldn't.

But one woman said since they have gone through all of it, they at least know Hay is "where he belongs."

And these women will try to make sure the parole board keeps him there.

Alex De Grand can be reached at 225-4889 (ext. 232) or adegrand


UK finally gets national recognition... sort of

University of Kentucky President Charles Wethington can explain it to the rest of his peers across the country now.

The Chronicle of Higher Education's July 21 issue features an article about Wethington's decision to bypass UK historian Lance Banning for an endowed chair despite Banning's impressive resume that includes being a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 1995, among many other academic distinctions. University administrators beneath Wethington supported an endowed chair for Banning, but Wethington has insisted the award- which amounts to a salary supplement and funding for research as well as offering a degree of recognition - should only go to someone from outside UK.

The idea of matching Banning with the endowed chair seemed like a great idea to the history department when it learned he was one of three finalists for an endowed chair at Notre Dame.

But the school leadership's thinking is that UK will become "America's next great university" by luring talent away from other schools. Apparently, the idea of doing something to make sure that kind of talent already at UK doesn't just wander out the back door never struck anyone as obvious.

The Chronicle reports that UK is trying to create an "endowed professorship" - a lesser prize amounting to $100,000 versus the $1 million of an endowed chair - for Banning. But Banning may not bite as he is still considering positions that would take him away from Wethington's wonderland.

UK might not ever get to be the next great university at this rate, but darn it all if it isn't the most entertaining. - ADG

Please hold the line

GTE and its unionized employees are still trying to reach an agreement for a new three-year contract. The union has been working on a contract extension since June 3.

Union spokesman Mike Garkovich said all but a few issues have been worked out. Those outstanding issues include contracting work outside the company, the formula for paying service center employees who work at night and criteria for promotions.

A new company proposal was expected on July 19 after negotiations broke off July 18.

Garkovich said no negotiations are scheduled for the week of July 24.

The union membership has voted to strike if contract negotiations ultimately fail. - ADG

Too Soon to Tell

In the wake of the tobacco verdicts, Governor Patton has issued a statement that says "we are a long way from knowing the final resolution of this case and its impact on Kentucky." The tobacco companies have stated the award is so substantial and punitive it will break them, while the jurors said big tobacco never offered any realistic numbers as to what would constitute "reasonable." Either way, Kentucky farms stand to shoulder their fair share of the shaft.