Update, Oct. 7, 5:30 p.m.: Speakman just released this statement:

"The Internet has brought many new things into our lives, including the opportunity to display poor judgement (sic) on a global basis in nano-seconds. Like many of us, I receive tons of messages from acquaintances and friends every day on my iPhone. Some make me laugh, some I dump in the trash immediately and a few I forward along to others whom I hope will find them amusing. In this instance, I obviously misjudged a person of my recent acquaintance and I regret that my hasty action caused her any discomfort."

Original Post:

The Loudoun County sheriff’s race just took another turn for the weird.

Ronald D. Speakman, 50, is running as an independent candidate for sheriff of Loudoun County. (Ron Speakman for Sheriff)

Speakman admits that he sent the photo but said it was intended as a joke after the woman made a series of sexual comments and text messages. He said the photo was not of him, which appears to be true. He said the woman did not work for him. And he said he was not going to apologize for sending it.

The woman did not find the photo of a man’s genitalia particularly hilarious. She strongly denied making any sexual comments or text messages to Speakman. She said she had no political background, had never heard of Speakman or any of the Loudoun sheriff candidates before Speakman approached her in a Leesburg bar one afternoon last month. She said she came forward because “I think ... has no business wearing a badge...The thought of him being the leader of our police force scares me.” She was able to cite examples of online blog posts she wrote on Speakman’s behalf as evidence that she worked for him.

You may recall that last month it was reported that Speakman, while an officer in Leesburg in 1988, launched an extramarital affair with a married woman. The two eventually bought a house together in Springfield, and in 1993 she shot him there. That incident was sparked by a dispute over whether Speakman was seeing another woman. Speakman subsequently married that woman and remains married to her. Speakman said the affair was an error committed in his youth.

For more background on how the lewd photo wound up on the woman’s phone, continue to the jump:

You will recall also that the sheriff of Loudoun County is different than the other sheriffs in Northern Virginia. The Loudoun sheriff performs the police functions of the county, while other NoVa sheriffs oversee the jail and courthouse, but generally do not respond to or investigate crimes or patrol neighborhoods. So it’s a powerful post and an important election.

Speakman continues to pour on the advertising dollars for his campaign, with large ads in the Loudoun Times-Mirror and Leesburg Today and a recent full-page ad in the Purcellville Gazette. It’s the equivalent of a huge media buy in a larger-scale campaign, while Republican Mike Chapman and incumbent independent Sheriff Steve Simpson have been relatively quiet.

The stories told by Speakman, 50, and the Loudoun County woman about how they met and their various interactions leading up to the graphic photo message are fairly similar. The woman spoke on condition of anonymity because she fears reprisals.

It is undisputed that they met in Payne’s Downtown Saloon, across Market Street from the Loudoun courthouse, on Sept. 9, and that Speakman asked her to post messages on his behalf in the comments section of stories for the Too Conservative blog and the Loudoun Times-Mirror and Leesburg Today. After reading up on Speakman, she did post a number of comments defending him, under the name “Sterling view,” for which she said she expected to be paid. Speakman said she was a volunteer.

After a lunch, another meeting at Payne’s and some long phone conversations, it is also undisputed that last Friday, Speakman sent her a text message which said, “Does this look like atheletes foot?” Attached to the message was a photo of a man seen only from the waist down, his right foot extended toward the camera, his penis clearly visible to the right of the foot.

The woman opened up the message and said she was “disgusted. Shocked. Sick to my stomach that I wrote stuff for him, that he’s a ‘good, honest man.’”

What is in dispute is the context in which Speakman sent the message.

“She put herself out as someone who would enjoy that kind of humor. And I apologize for nothing,” Speakman said.

He claimed that the woman told numerous stories of her sexual past and her previous infidelities and had sent him sexually explicit text messages. He did not, however, save any of those text messages. A bartender at Payne’s said she saw some sexual text messages on Speakman’s phone, but didn’t know who sent them.

Speakman said he forwarded the photo, but “I was never inappropriate with her. Have you seen the photo? It’s a joke. It’s a joke photo. It was going around. My son got it. I can tell you the guy that forwarded it to me. It’s been around all over. It says, ‘Do I have athlete’s foot?’”

Bo Frazier, a friend of Speakman’s from Fauquier County, said he sent the photo to Speakman last week, also as a joke. He said it was something someone sent him, and he had no idea what the “athlete’s foot” comment was. He said Speakman and his wife were “great people.”

The woman vehemently denied ever having extramarital affairs or discussing her sex life with Speakman. She said she did not send him any text messages about sex.

Speakman believes he was set up by someone in the Republican party. He ran for the Republican nomination for sheriff, but lost at the party convention in July. In August, he reentered the race as an independent, and was recently denounced by Republican officials at a press conference on the Loudoun courthouse steps.