House of Delegates Candidate Admits Affair with Student

October 27, 2011

A conservative independent seeking a House of Delegates seat from Appomattox says when she was a junior high teacher 40 years ago she had an affair with a female student but that she was a "different person" back then.

Wall is one of three candidates seeking the 59th District House of Delegates seat. After redistricting, the district includes Buckingham County and parts of Albemarle and Nelson counties.

In an Associated Press interview on Wednesday, Linda Wall confirmed her sworn 2006 testimony in a lawsuit in which she admitted to "sexual relations with a minor" in the early 1970s when she taught physical education in Prince George County. The 61-year-old Wall said the affair was a long-ago, youthful mistake, not who she is now.

"I've never tried to hide that I was in homosexuality. If anybody Googles me, they would find that out there," Wall said.

"Forty years ago I was a different person. I was a heavy pot smoker with ... impaired judgment and made some bad choices," she said. "You do that out of college sometimes. Some people do, some people don't."

The disclosure came two weeks before the election in which Wall, Democrat Connie Brennan and Republican Matt Fariss are vying for the vacant seat of Del. Watkins Abbitt, an independent from Appomattox who is retiring after 26 years in the House.

Meanwhile, the Lynchburg News-Advance report Fariss had an emergency protective order filed against him in 2002. The Republican also has four misdemeanor convictions relating to hunting violations and a DUI from 1997.

Fariss has refused to commented to the media about his past.

Wall credits a Christian conversion years ago with turning her from drugs and changing her sexual orientation. She also has lobbied Virginia's General Assembly on behalf of the conservative Family Foundation, a staunch opponent of gay marriage, adoption by same-sex couples and abortion.

Wall resigned from the school after the district superintendent confronted her about the affair, according to the transcript deposition. She was never criminally charged.

She declined to identify the school or its location in Prince George, saying she did not wish to risk identifying or traumatizing the girl who had been her partner.

There is no statute of limitations on most felonies in Virginia, so Wall could be still prosecuted, said Prince George County Police Sgt. Michael Taber. But for that to happen, the victim would have to come forward and file a complaint, he said.

"If it's a felony — especially on a sexual offense — there's not going to be an expiration on that," Taber said.

The determination of whether Wall is charged is up to the local commonwealth's attorney, not police. An after-hours call and email to the attorney was not immediately returned.

The AP obtained the opening portion of Wall's deposition from former Republican candidate Paul Jost who sued Wall and his nemesis, state Sen. Tommy Norment, for defamation over claims made in a bitter 2003 GOP primary when Jost unsuccessfully challenged Norment.

The lawsuit, filed in 2003, lingered for six years before it Norment and Jost reached a settlement and the case was dismissed. Both sides agreed not to divulge terms of the settlement. Wall's deposition was never included in a sheaf of legal filings eight inches thick in Richmond Circuit Court, but Jost said he felt compelled to make the devastating document public.

"I did it because it shows Linda Wall is not fit to hold public office," said Jost, who moved to Florida several years ago but retains business interests in Hampton Roads.

"To me, this isn't about her sexuality. People have different feelings about that. To me, this is about a criminal act and that's why I felt that it needed to be disclosed," he said, denying that he acted to settle an old score.

Jost sued Norment and Wall for libel and slander after she alleged he offered her $50,000 to drop out of the 2003 Senate primary against Norment and instead challenge another Republican senator.

Wall later abandoned her candidacy for other reasons and publicly characterized Jost's offer as a bribe. Norment repeated her claim as part of a nomination fight that Norment, now the Senate Minority Leader, eventually won with 62 percent of the vote. Jost spent nearly $845,000, and Norment spent slightly more than $890,000 in what still ranks as Virginia's most expensive legislative primary battle.

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