Superintendent accuses Franks of extortion

TUPELO — A school superintendent said in a lawsuit filed July 23 that Mississippi Democratic Party chairman Jamie Franks tried to commit extortion by pressuring the superintendent to resign over an affair with Franks’ wife.

Mike Scott was elected Lee County superintendent in 2007 as a Democrat.

Scott, who is married, said in the suit filed in Lee County Circuit Court that he “succumbed to human weakness and engaged in a voluntary sexual relationship” with Alisa Franks, who’s an employee of the school district.

Scott said, however, that he didn’t break up the Franks’ marriage because Alisa Franks was determined to leave the marriage regardless of his actions.

Jamie and Alisa Franks divorced in June.

On July 1, Jamie Franks filed notice with the Lee County School Board that he planned to file a $500,000 alienation of affection lawsuit against the district, the board and Scott over an “illicit” relationship between the superintendent and his then-wife. Franks said he discovered the relationship April 19.

Scott said in his own lawsuit that members of the Lee County Democratic Executive Committee, including county party chairman Eric Hampton, threatened to publicly reveal information about the relationship unless he resigned.

Scott has said he won’t resign as superintendent.

The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reported that Alisa Franks is the elementary curriculum coordinator and is directly supervised by Scott.

Scott is seeking a jury trial and wants a court declaration that he’s not liable for alienation of affection, said his attorney Jim Waide. The suit also asks the court to declare that Jamie Franks and Hampton are liable for extortion, malicious interference with employment, defamation and negligence.

Jamie Franks — a former state House member who was the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor in 2007 — said Friday he has not filed his alienation of affection lawsuit. State law allows the district 90 days to respond to the initial notice, then Franks could wait another year to file the suit.

Waide said the superintendent didn’t want to let the issues linger.

“We wanted to get it resolved, and we also believe the things Jamie has done are much more serious and cause much more damage,” Waide said.

Jamie Franks said Friday that he had not read the lawsuit Scott filed against him and Hampton.

“It just appears to me, like we say, a good defense is a good offense,” said Jamie Franks, who’s an attorney. “Mr. Scott was exposed for what he’s done.”

Jamie Franks referred questions to his attorney, Jason Herring, who issued a news release.

“In the retaliatory lawsuit filed by Mr. Scott against Mr. Franks and others, he admits his ongoing sexual relationship with Mr. Franks’ then spouse,” Herring said. “As such, this matter simply boils down to Mr. Scott having an affair with Mr. Franks’ then wife at the expense of Lee County taxpayers and then suing him when Mr. Scott’s wrongful conduct was disclosed.”

Scott said he didn’t use taxpayer money in his relationship with Alisa Franks. Scott also said in his lawsuit that he has “profoundly apologized to his wife and children for his actions and continues to seek their forgiveness.”

Gary Carnathan, attorney for the Lee County School Board, said in an interview Friday that the board doesn’t control whether Scott remains as superintendent because Scott was elected.

“The school board is kind of just powerless to require Mr. Scott to do anything,” Carnathan said.

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