Quirky millionaire Amarillo oil heir and arts patron Stanley Marsh 3 was booked into Potter County Jail yesterday on 11 sex crimes involving boys under the age of 17. He has since been released after paying his $325,000 in bonds, according to court records.
The arrest follows a half-dozen lawsuits alleging that Marsh, auteur behind the world-famous Cadillac Ranch, paid ten teens for sex acts at his baronial Toad Hall estate and at his downtown Amarillo office, located on what he called the "Peoples Republic of the 12th Floor" in the city's tallest building. At least five of the civil suits were filed by Houston attorney Tony Buzbee; all of the allegations have been denied by Marsh's civil attorney, Kelly Utsinger.
And two other Houston attorneys will be defending Marsh in his criminal proceedings. The Marsh family have retained the services of Paul Nugent and Heather Peterson, two names any wealthy Texan with a penchant for getting into trouble should have on speed-dial. (Nugent's most recent high-profile coup was gaining a dismissal of a murder-for-hire charge for Houston attorney Jeffrey Stern in the bizarre case that saw Stern's wife survive no fewer than three attempted hits, allegedly masterminded by Stern's admitted mistress.)
Nugent claims that the alleged victims are trying to cash in on an aging millionaire's infirmity to make themselves millionaires. (Marsh recently suffered a series of strokes; his wife Wendy has served as his legal guardian ever since and is named in the lawsuits as well.)
Nugent and Peterson's written statement, in full:
The criminal charges against Stanley Marsh 3 are mere allegations by the group of accusers who have filed a barrage of civil lawsuits against Marsh seeking millions of dollars. Instead of immediately reporting any alleged wrongdoing to the police, the group strategized, conferred, and waited. After Stanley Marsh 3 suffered a massive stroke and became legally incapacitated, the group implemented their plan to become multi-millionaires by signing contracts with an aggressive personal injury lawyer from Houston.The investigation into the group's claims is far from complete. There should be no premature rush to judgment. Stanley Marsh 3 is not guilty of the group's allegations, and will fight as vigorously as his declining health permits.
In the suits, Marsh is portrayed as "a serial abuser of boys and young men" who plied his young victims -- often described as "troubled" and "artistic" youngsters -- with cars, cash, alcohol and drugs. Some of the suits claim Marsh gave the boys Viagra in order to enhance their performance.
The alleged victims in the suits were all 15 and 16 years old. Some have claimed that the suits were filed only after Potter County law enforcement failed to take action against Marsh. (Lubbock County DA Matt Powell, fresh off his win as State Bar of Texas "Prosecutor of the Year," has been brought north to Amarillo as a special prosecutor in these cases.)
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Marsh has been in trouble before. In 1996 he was indicted on three counts of indecency with a child. Those complaints were all dismissed.
That same year, Marsh 3 settled a civil suit filed by a young man who alleged sexual abuse. Dick DeGuerin, Marsh 3's attorney in that case (and one of Paul Nugent's mentors), told the media at the time that settling would be cheaper than fighting them in court. No wrongdoing was admitted.
Two years later, Marsh 3 was convicted of unlawful restraint and criminal trespass after he locked Ben Whittenburg, a teenage scion of a prominent Amarillo family with whom the Marsh family had been feuding, in a chicken coop. Whittenburg had reportedly stolen one of the droll fake street signs Marsh 3 has erected in Amarillo as part of his open-air "Dynamite Museum" art project. (Ironically, the legend on the sign read "Steal This Sign.")
In 2001, Marsh 3 settled another four suits, including one over the chicken coop incident. All that is known of the other three is that they included, according to Amarillo.com, allegations of "imprisonment, sexual misconduct, and harassment of teens." Marsh 3 reportedly apologized; all other details have remained secret.