Bubba the Love Sponge Accuses Mark Lunsford of Exploiting His Daughter's Rape and Murder
But shock jock Bubba the Love Sponge Clem isn't backing off a harsh comment he made Thursday morning while pressing Mark Lunsford, whose 9-year-old daughter Jessica was abducted, raped and murdered by convicted sex offender John Couey in 2005.
Clem insists that Lunsford, who last week revealed his intention to file suit against the Citrus County sheriff's office for failing to investigate the disappearance properly, is addicted to the fame which has resulted from his daughter's death. The radio personality also raised pointed questions about what Lunsford has done with cash contributions to the foundation he established in his daughter's honor.
Lunsford called in to Clem's Cox Radio show Thursday morning. As he was talking about how he had to wait for IRS approval to establish his foundation, Clem let the bombshell drop: "You have to wait for your daughter to die before you can start raping money from people -- I understand."
"The only thing I'm guilty of is sticking up for the people of Citrus County, who will have to pay for this lawsuit," Clem said Thursday night. "I'm the most pro-law enforcement radio person out there. I stick up for cops...Maybe if he would have spent less time at the tavern (the night Jessica disappeared) she would still be around."
Lunsford's counsel, Jacksonville attorney Eric Block, accused Clem of trashing the father of a murdered girl to win ratings for his radio show. "(Lunsford) lost his daughter to a rape/murder....He was furious. I was listening in and I was shocked," said Block, who added that Lunsford has hired a First Amendment attorney to explore the possibility of suing Clem. "They're not interested in facts; they're interested in shock radio."
During the 12-minute interview, Lunsford insisted all his foundation's financial records are available online, disputing a Tampa Tribune story which said the foundation claimed $25,000 in expenses for office supplies and furniture. Lunsford said he takes a salary of $54,000, inviting Clem to join his board of directors so he could see all the records.
Clem asked Lunsford if he would take a drug test before coming on his show, repeatedly asking where cash donations to the foundation have been spent. Lunsford eventually hung up the telephone when Clem asked a pointed question alleging he was at a bar while Jessica was abducted.
Block said Lunsford is limited to a maximum $100,000 award, which he has promised to donate to charity minus attorney's fees. The attorney added that Lunsford blames the sheriff's office for focusing on his father Archie as a suspect when Jessica's disappearance was first reported.
"The police lied to Mark and told him Jessica's blood was found in his father's underwear," said Block, noting that Jessica was taken from Lunsford's home while he was out and his father was babysitting; Lunsford maintains Jessica was alive for days after Couey abducted her. "The sherriff's office decided she was dead and Archie killed her. They weren't looking for a live little girl. they were trying to get Archie to admit to a crime he didn't commit."
Producer Brent Hatley said Clem knows Dawsy and may be partially reacting to defend the sheriff. But Clem claims to have two private investigators and a forensic accountant looking at the publicly-available financial records for Lunsford's foundation. And given that Lunsford is a nationally-known advocate who called into the radio show himself, Clem isn't worried about a lawsuit, either.
"I cannot wait to get into a courtroom over this," said Clem. "I may be looking like the bad guy now. But I won't be for long."