Following accusations from multiple women that he spanked them when they were reporters in the 1970s, the former publisher of an Alabama newspaper has resigned from his position at the head of the company started by his grandfather, AL.com reports. According to the Washington Post, 82-year-old H. Brandt Ayers on Thursday stepped down as chairman of Consolidated Publishing, which owns the Anniston Star and five other newspapers. "It is of utmost importance to me that this newspaper continue to serve its role of reporting on matters of concern to the Anniston community and that nothing stand in the way of preserving the newspaper as an independently owned publication serving the community," Ayers says in a statement released to the Star.
Ayers, who served as publisher of the Star until 2016, admitted earlier this week to spanking a female reporter at her home in the 70s. He claims he was following a doctor's advice to "calm her down" regarding her psychological illness. Another former reporter, Veronica Kennedy, says Ayers spanked her with a metallic ruler after pulling her from her chair in the newsroom. Ayers has said to "let the accusation stand." A third woman has also accused Ayers of spanking her. Kennedy says she's "happy that at least there was some acknowledgement that these incidents occurred." Though she says Ayers' resignation is "just a baby step," as his family will remain in control of Consolidated Publishing. Ayers' wife is replacing him as chairman. (Read more sexual harassment stories.)