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Allen Denies Using Epithet to Describe Blacks

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By Michael D. Shear and Tim Craig
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, September 26, 2006

RICHMOND, Sept. 25 -- Virginia Sen. George Allen on Monday denied allegations by a college football teammate and another former acquaintance that the senator used a racial epithet to refer to blacks during and after his time at the University of Virginia in the early 1970s.

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The accusations by R. Kendall Shelton, 53, a radiologist in North Carolina, and Christopher C. Taylor, 59, an anthropologist at the University of Alabama, reignited questions about Allen and race as he campaigns for reelection against Democrat James Webb.

Shelton said Allen frequently used the "N-word" to describe blacks and nicknamed him "Wizard" because of the similarity of his name to that of Robert Shelton, a former imperial wizard of the Alabama Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. He also recounted an event from 1973 or 1974 in which he, Allen and a third friend were hunting deer. After the deer was killed, Shelton said, Allen cut off the doe's head, asked for directions to the home of the nearest black person and shoved the head into that person's mailbox.

Taylor said that during a visit to Allen's Charlottesville house in 1982, Allen pointed to turtles in a pond on his property and said only "the [epithets] eat them."

Allen adviser Chris LaCivita said that Taylor is lying and that "this guy is not credible, period." LaCivita said Taylor is a liberal activist.

In comments Monday to reporters, Allen called Shelton's recollections about the deer incident "absolutely false," "pure fabrication" and "nonsense." He said he called Shelton "Wizard" because of his acrobatic catches on the football field. Allen said he does not recall ever having used the "N-word" or any other racial epithets at the University of Virginia.

"That word was not a part of my vocabulary," the senator said. "It wasn't then. It hasn't been since then. And it is not now. It is not who I was, and it is not who I am. It is contrary to every fiber of my being. This story is an attack piece. It is deplorable, and it is false." Allen was referring to a story posted Sunday night on Salon.com, which first reported Shelton's allegations. Salon.com is an Internet magazine of news and opinion.

Allen's campaign released statements Monday from four former teammates and coaches who defended Allen, saying they never heard him use racial epithets or saw him act insensitively toward blacks. Allen is running for a second term against Webb, a former Navy secretary under President Ronald Reagan.

"I have never known or heard him use racial epithets to describe blacks either in public or in private," George Korte, a linebacker on the U-Va. team from 1970 to 1973, said in the statement. "It appears to me that Kenny Shelton has some deep rooted problems with his self-identity and a rather hyperactive imagination."

Several former teammates interviewed by The Washington Post agreed.

"I have never heard him use that word," said Rob Berce, a wide receiver who graduated in 1976. "He just seemed to be a pretty upfront, good guy."

Jim Grobe, the head football coach at Wake Forest University, said he is "shocked" by Shelton's allegations. "I never heard George say anything like that," Grobe said.


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