As America waited for more news on former Sen. John Edwards’ alleged love child, we found a host of other authority figures across the South in deep ca-ca over affectional encounters of the unpolitic kind.

infidelity1Fired North Carolina Highway Patrol Sgt. Timothy J. White is trying to get his job back after an encounter with another trooper’s wife in the backseat of a car on the way home from a Christmas party — while the woman’s husband sat in the front seat and a third, presumably sober, trooper drove.  White says there may have been some kissing but doesn’t recall the oral sex act that was alleged and notes that he broke no laws.  White contends he is being singled out unfairly, since the state didn’t fire many of the 26 other troopers accused of sexual misconduct the past 10 years.

The Charlotte Observer reported that the case is, indeed, but the latest in a string of incidents involving sex and the Highway Patrol. The situation was bad enough for the state to call in consultants, who last year recommended increased ethics training for troopers, especially regarding appropriate expectations for sexual behavior.

In Raleigh, Democratic State Rep. Ty Harrell was already in trouble for questionable finances, but what apparently forced his resignation early this week was news that he no longer lives in the district he represents because his estranged wife threw him out of their house.  One of his offenses, according to newsobserver.com, was dancing  the Jones Street Stanky Leg with another woman at a local club.

In Miami, a former stripper filed for a restraining order against a Catholic priest, claiming he tried to strangle her during a quarrel over her demand that he pay support for the child she contends he fathered.  The allegations against Father David Dueppen represent the second embarrassment this year for the Miami Archdiocese.  Popular TV priest Alberto Cutie resigned this spring after admitting an affair with a woman he has since married.

Former Rep. William Jefferson (D-La.) got no love from a federal judge this week despite his lawyer’s argument that Jefferson’s bribery conviction should be tossed because an FBI agent assigned to the case had a sexual relationship with the key government witness against Jefferson.  Appeal denied.

In Tennessee’s own version of Troopergate, a judge denied the appeal of former Patrol Lt. Ronnie Shirley, who was fired for using the state’s criminal justice portal to check out information on private citizens — including country music star Gretchen Wilson.

Here’s some other stories from around the South that grabbed our attention.  And check out our News and Opinion Feeds for a lot more Southern happenings.

bildeWhen good grades aren’t enough: Portland, Tennessee, teacher Sandy Binkley went on trial this week for allegedly having sex with two high school students.  Binkley is 37.  She claims she was the one who was raped, and her husband testified that they regularly went to church together, disputing one of the alleged victim’s claims that he had sex with Binkley while her husband was at church.

Good lord: Two Sevierville, Tennessee, women have been arrested for allegedly using their cellphones to take  “nude and degrading pictures of eldery patients” at the nursing home where they once worked, knoxnews.com reports.

They’re calling him ‘Naked Gun:’ Ninety-one-year-old Robert E. Thompson admits he wasn’t wearing a stitch of clothing when he jumped out of bed with his .38 and helped his Rottweiler Rhett chase down an intruder in Lake Worth, Florida.  Rhett had already torn off a big piece of the guy’s shirt, and Thompson says he fired a warning shot when the young man came toward him.  The face-off ended when deputies arrived.

coyoteSlippery when wet:  Brittany Barnes is suing after she fell off the bar at Coyote Ugly Saloon in Nashville, Tennessee.  The bar is famous for its bar-dancing staff and for encouraging patrons to join in.  If the bar is going to do that, Barnes contends, it has an obligation to keep the bar dry.  Her lawyer says her fall from the wet bar has caused her to lose her sense of smell.

Turning the page on another conservative voice: The South Florida Sun Sentinel reports that disgraced former Florida Republican congressman Mark Foley has a new talk radio show on WSVU-AM 960 in northern Palm Beach County.

Trying to get back to the foot washing: Alabama is sending 125 state troopers to watch over the 121st annual “Foot Wash” in Grayers, Alabama, this weekend.  The event began in 1888 as a biblically-inspired event to help raise money for poor families unable to pay for funeral expenses.  But authorities say it has evolved into a huge outdoor party with sex, drugs and occasional rock ‘n’ roll.

Meanwhile, somewhere on the Appalachian Trail between here and Argentina: South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford told reporters that he couldn’t shake hands because he sprained both wrists in a bicycle accident over the weekend.

Be warned, commitment freaks: A marriage proposal on the beach near Palmetto Dunes in South Carolina apparently resulted in the deaths of 60 baby turtles.  The man preparing to do the proposing set out about 150 bags with candles in them, a romantic touch to humans but a hugely disorienting splash of light to turtles.  The federally protected loggerhead hatchlings wandered away from their nest and away from the ocean and were either eaten by ghost crabs or fell dead of exhaustion.

092109webapHarleHearse_t607Speaking of death: Motorcycle enthusiast David Richards of Surgoinsville, Tennessee, has created a “Harley Hearse” for bikers wanting one last ride.  It’s a simple contraption:  A motorcycle with a casket attached to a flat sidecar. He’s also established a business to go with it:  Memories in the Wind Motorcycle Hearse Co.

Flushed out: Officials of Tybee Island, Georgia, have joined with Chatham County officials in trying to find a way to keep Tybee Pier’s ancient toilets running.  Dean Morrison, a contractor who maintains the bathrooms, says some of the fixtures are so old that parts can no longer be found for them.  He estimates that half the 40,000 people who came to Tybee on Labor Day weekend flushed at the pier and says about 10,000 people use the facilities every weekend.

Putting the bye in buying books: Another hint that paper books are quickly becoming so last century is a program by the Florida university system offering students free digital versions of pricey textbooks.  According to tampabay.com, 124 titles are available.  The project is a partnership among the University Press of Florida, the Virginia publisher Integrated Book Technology; and Orange Grove, the state’s digital database of teaching material.

Dew Droplets:  Its Braves are gone, but Richmond, Virginia, is getting a new baseball team with the relocation of the Class AA Connecticut Defenders … The battle over a proposed Walmart Supercenter near the Wilderness Battlefield in Orange County, Virginia, is headed to court … A Charlotte woman has been accused of smuggling live endangered fish from Vietnam packed inside bottles of fish sauce … An Eight Mile, Alabama, man is accused of burning down his family’s house after a fight with one of his sister’s … Thieves siphoned gas from an Albany, Georgia, police car … A Virginia Beach police officer who specialized in enforcing drunken-driving laws has been convicted of DUI.

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Ron Taylor

Ron Taylor

Ron Taylor was born and raised in Georgia and worked more than 40 years at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution as a reporter and editor and as an online producer for ajc.com and AccessAtlanta. He served for a time as the newspaper's regional editor, overseeing coverage of the South. He is co-author, with Dr. Leonard Ray Teel, of Into the Newsroom:  An Introduction to Journalism and has conducted workshops in the Middle East on feature writing.