Former “Sons of Guns” co-star Stephanie Ford says a Spanish Town Parade float that mocked her reported sexual abuse was carrying a Baton Rouge police officer who continued to make fun of her on Facebook.
Now three members of the police force are facing an internal investigation for their possible involvement with the float, including an officer who works in the Internal Affairs department.
For several years, Ford and her father, Will Hayden, have been in the public eye as co-stars on the Discovery reality show “Sons of Guns,” which portrayed the daily workings of the family’s gun dealership in Baton Rouge. The show was canceled in August after Hayden’s arrests on charges he raped two preteen girls. He now faces aggravated rape cases in both East Baton Rouge and Livingston parishes.
The scandal grew even more complicated when Ford, who had originally defended her father, went on the “Dr. Phil” show in September and described in detail how Hayden allegedly kissed and fondled her when she was 12. Ford said her father tried to pull her clothes off while pinching and kissing her, but that she broke free of him.
Hayden is charged with sex crimes in Livingston Parish for this assault on Ford. He denies assaulting any of the victims and has pleaded not guilty.
On Friday, Ford’s spokesman Adam Handelsman provided photos of a Spanish Town float for the “Krewe of Sleaziana” that reportedly showcased disparaging words about Ford and her father.
Underneath an altered image of Ford’s face were the words “A face only a daddy could love” and “Red Jack It Firearms,” which is a reference to Hayden’s gun shop, Red Jacket Firearms. Another photo showed Hayden’s mug shot.
The theme of the float was “Easy Targets.” Many of the roughly 80 floats in the satirical Spanish Town Parade poked fun at people in the news, particularly politicians.
Handelsman condemned the float’s depictions, saying it re-victimized his client. Ford’s daughter was at the parade when the float went by, and Ford’s photo was posted on a BRPD officer’s Facebook page, he said.
“This is a crime that women are already too hesitant to come forward with, with the shame and the victimization that usually happens,” Handelsman said, referring to sexual abuse. “To see a member of law enforcement in your community on a float that condones child molestation … is sad.”
In a written statement, Baton Rouge Police Chief Carl Dabadie said, “The theme of this float in no way represents the belief or attitude of the Baton Rouge Police Department. The struggle a sexual assault victim endures is a very serious matter and is not something that should be taken lightly or used in a satirical manner.”
Lt. Jonny Dunnam, a Baton Rouge Police spokesman, emphasized that the officers were off-duty and that neither Ford nor anybody else has made a formal complaint with the department.
The three officers being investigated are Donald Young, John B. Fontenot and Douglas Atkins, he said.
Young is a member of the Internal Affairs department, and Fontenot is a member of the DWI Task Force, said Cpl. L’Jean McKneely, a police spokesman.
Even as police investigate how involved the officers were, details about the Krewe of Sleaziana were still unclear. Contact people for each krewe are listed on the parade organizer’s website. That list shows “Don Young” as the contact person for Sleaziana.
The parade’s organizers also did not provide many details. Dusty Kling, the treasurer for the Society for the Preservation of Lagniappe in Louisiana, which manages the parade, declined to identify the float’s leaders, though he did say that some “policemen” were members of Sleaziana.
“We have 85 floats with disparaging pictures and it’s not something we’re against or try to control,” said Kling, who is an employee of The Advocate’s federal credit union. “It’s a pretty controversial parade, and controversial things happen.”
Follow Daniel Bethencourt on Twitter: @_dbethencourt.