By MARY SELL and TODD STACY, Alabama Daily News
MONTGOMERY, Ala. – U.S. Senate candidate Mike Durant both defended himself and went on the offensive after news reports resurfaced that he publicly accused his sister of lying about being sexual abused by their father, despite his father’s previous admission of guilt.
Alabama Political Reporter published a story Wednesday that cites Associated Press stories from nearly 30 years ago. Durant’s sister, Mary Ryan, who went by Mary Durant then, said her father sexually abused her almost her entire childhood and almost daily when she was ages 14 to 19. She filed a federal civil lawsuit for $5 million in 1994 after she said her father broke an earlier agreement to seek treatment.
On Thursday, Durant, a Huntsville business owner who has been gaining in polls since entering the race in October, told radio host Dale Jackson that he didn’t see the “relevance” of his family’s situation on the Senate race and said it was a “hack job” by opponents, naming Congressman Mo Brooks and former Business Council of Alabama leader Katie Britt.
“Those facts are all distorted,” Durant said of the previous articles. “The bottom line is this, these things happened almost 50 years ago, I was a child and I was not involved. So I don’t understand what the relevance is.
“… Everything I did was above board, it was the right thing to do and it has nothing to do with the campaign,” Durant said.
His sister, Mary Ryan, on Friday told Alabama Daily News that Durant took their father’s side, despite his admission to sexual abuse, which led to their estrangement decades ago.
“Incest occurred throughout my childhood. My father confessed in 1991, and soon afterward, he signed a contractual agreement with me,” Ryan said in a statement to ADN. “My brother and family chose to support my father and mother as they attempted to avoid the consequences. They all tried to silence me. It is
unfortunate for my brother that he participated in this behavior, as it is currently causing his character to be called into question.
“Mike should have seen this coming. I have no personal interest or stake whatsoever in the outcome of the Alabama Senate race.”
The AP reporting out of Tennessee, where the Durants are from, followed Mike Durant’s 1993 release as a hostage in Somalia after the Army pilot’s helicopter was shot down.
On the Dale Jackson Show, Durant said he never said the abuse didn’t happen, but that what Ryan was doing in bringing the lawsuit against their father was wrong.
He said his entire family is still estranged from Ryan “because of the things that she did.”
Their father, Leon Durant, died in 2010.
On Thursday, Durant’s campaign team went on the offensive, calling on Senate candidates Congressman Mo Brooks and former BCA leader Katie Boyd Britt to condemn “the disgusting, false, and misleading attacks” on Durant.
“[Brooks and Britt] have been in politics their entire lives where these games are played. They should be ashamed of themselves,” campaign spokesman Jahan Wilcox said in a press release.
On Twitter, Brooks said he had “zero” to do with the article by Alabama Political Reporter. The Britt campaign tells ADN that it was not behind the story either.