The Talladega, Alabama, mayor is defending himself and his “good friend” against allegations that they are the pair caught on videotape having extramarital sex, a claim that surfaced after the woman’s husband was accused of beating the mayor with a baseball bat.
“I don’t know what they’re talking about,” says Mayor Larry Barton, 75, who police say was assaulted Aug. 8 by Benny Green, 71, a friend and former co-host of the mayor’s weekly TV show, In the Interest of the People.
“I do know,” Barton tells PEOPLE, “it’s illegal to videotape someone without their permission.”
Green, who has not entered a plea, is charged with first-degree assault, which carries a penalty of two to 20 years in prison.
The accusation of infidelity by Green’s wife, Charlotte, 68, was made by Benny Green in the couple’s pending divorce case. A court document filed in February states that on three occasions in December 2013, Charlotte Green was caught on video “engaging in sexual conduct with an individual who is not” her husband in the back of the Greens’ liquor store.
That individual is Larry Barton, according to Benny Green’s former attorney Stewart Springer. “If Benny did this – and I’m not saying he did,” Springer tells PEOPLE, “they made him do it by what they did to him.”
Neither Charlotte Green nor her attorney Steven Adcock returned repeated calls.
Trying to ‘Drag Her Through the Mud’
But the mayor – a part-time barber who keeps an unofficial office in the liquor store and says he helps Charlotte Green with her books – rose to her defense.
“Mrs. Green’s character is impeccable. She’s a sweet lady, hard worker, works six to seven days a week. I don’t know who’d be trying to drag her through the mud,” he said.
“You can’t outrun rumors. Whatever sounds good, people are going to tell it.” He adds: “Her attorney has told her to just leave it until the divorce is finalized.”
Barton was briefly hospitalized after the attack, in which police say he was confronted outside of the barber shop where he works by a man wearing a trench coat and a ball cap with a sewn-in wig. “There was an attempt at some form of disguise,” says Lt. Brian Gilham of the Vestavia Hills, Alabama, police. But Barton says he eventually recognized his alleged attacker, who was detained by bystanders as he tried to flee by bicycle.
“The victim is very fortunate. It appears he’s going to be okay,” says Gilham. “All things considered, this could have turned out a lot worse, it really could have. It’s a serious matter.”
Barton is a four-term mayor – most recently elected after serving three years in jail for stealing $5,900 from the city – and is seeking a fifth term Aug. 25.
Of the sex tape allegation, he says, “I think it’s possibly politically motivated.”
To read more about the septuagenarian sex scandal, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE on newsstands Friday.
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