Evan Arnold/ Staff Writer
The controversy surrounding the latest viral video, that of Judge William Adams beating his daughter, Hillary Adams is continuing to grow as legal authorities decide what action to take. Lesser known, however, is the story of one of Hillary’s closest friends, J. Andre Bardin, who shared with the Foghorn his thoughts on the case, the Adams family and their implications.
Originally thrust into the controversy by being quoted in an edit to the first Gawker article involving the case, Bardin has been contacted by both local news organizations and national conglomerates including CNN and ABC.
Bardin originally met Hillary around 2000 through a mutual friend. They shared similar interests, and “became really good friends,” said Bardin, who went on to spend time with Hillary, including during her home life around her family and father. Bardin spoke about Judge Adams’ questionable behavior, which he himself witnessed, saying from his experience Adams “was really good at having a front when he wasn’t in his personal space. Whenever he was out in public, I don’t want to say he was putting on a show, but he was really good at wearing a different face. Since I was in the house, I was exposed to him in a more informal environment, he didn’t wear that guise as much when Hillary had friends over.” Bardin continues, saying that Adams seemed “cold” and “distant”, and while there were times he was brave enough to pull a prank or two on the Judge, and times when he’d be laughing or joking, he “always had a harsh vibe that came off of him.”
Bardin was critical of Hillary’s mother as well, saying although, “she was a victim of psychological abuse as well, her mother was really passive, I think given the atmosphere she wasn’t able to stick up for her children.”
On the whole, Bardin said their family life seemed “very structured,” a fact which, “never really dissipated, even in an informal setting.” Bardin did say, however, that he wasn’t aware of the video’s contents before it was uploaded to the Internet, and didn’t even suspect what its contents would soon unveil about the family. He and Hillary “hadn’t spoken about it in seven years.”
Bardin spoke with Hillary briefly about the video before she released it, and she left him a message saying to “check Reddit,” a website dedicated to a variety of online subjects.
After hitting Reddit, the self-described “Front Page of the Inernet,” the video’s online popularity skyrocketed, leading up to mass media attention and YouTube coverage soon thereafter.
Bardin tells the Foghorn that the big question online is of course why Hillary decided to release the video. He says, “the reasoning behind that is because right now, Hillary is at the point in her life where she has…opportunity. Her boyfriend, David, is well off financially. Between the two of them having a pretty stable income, having a stable financial life, she isn’t really dependent on her family as a young adult anymore. It was a way to sever ties.”
“Prior to the video leak,” says Bardin, “she had spoken to her father on the phone. I don’t know the reasoning, but he became very upset with her and said some pretty awful things to her over the phone. According to Hillary, he threatened to take away the car that he was paying for. I’m not sure of the context as to why, but Hillary responded ‘If you try to do that, then I’ll post a video of you beating me up online.’ To which he responded ‘If it makes you happy, do it.’ He dared her, and she posted the video.”
When asked about his role in spreading the video, Bardin replies, “It’s kind of a tricky subject, when local news was trying to get a hold of Hillary they were having a difficult time finding her actual contact information because her parents were split and she was living away from them. No one could find her, but they could find me since I was on her Social Media feed.” When the video went viral, Bardin received questions through his Twitter account from people affiliated with local news networks such as KIITV in search of Hillary’s contact information. He passed along this information after getting Hillary’s permission, who KIIITV then shared Bardin’s contact information with ABC (since they are an affiliate).
“So ABC decided, well this is the guy you contact when you want to get information on how to contact Hillary. It snowballed from there as more websites asked me questions about the video content. It was unexpected, and I became almost like a publicist overnight. Anything I stated to any news outlet I ran by Hillary, because this is her personal video that she hadn’t made a formal statement about yet on any major news source.”
Next we asked Bardin about what he thinks Hillary’s motivation for releasing the video really was, and he replied, “What a lot of people are accusing her of now is that she’s releasing it only because the county judge elections are in a few days. I think that is coincidental.” He continued to say that he “spoke to her about it, and there are two big reasons she says she wants the world to know why the video was posted in the first place. The first reason that she stresses is that she wants her father to get the help he needs to acknowledge he has abused and damaged Hillary, her mother, and possibly Allison (Hillary’s sister). The second reason is that she wants to be the voice for thousands of other abused children who currently are being abused that they aren’t the only ones out there, that it’s okay to speak up.”
The Internet storm of death-threats to her father, the endless phone calls, faxes, malicious pranks and other malicious Internet behavior have been brought about as a result of the video. Bardin stated that Hillary “says that what has happened so far is enough. She isn’t looking for the cops to kick in her door, and when we spoke this morning (she mentioned) all the myths on Encyclopedia Dramatica and all over the Internet regarding her father. His face is plastered on thousands of image macros now.”
“It’s awful, and what’s happened now is far enough. She isn’t looking to ruin his life, but after years of this happening, this is the way to make him listen. It’s more of an intervention in a way. She’s concerned with the death threats, but it’s an unfortunate circumstance of what happens when you get the Internet involved-you get the good and the bad.” Bardin said. He continues to describe his thoughts on the various responses that have appeared on the Internet regarding Judge Adams and his replies to media. He says tries to keep his personal point of view out of any interviews, but he believes that, contrary to the Judge’s statement “it’s not as bad as it looks,” that in reality things are actually “worse than (they) look.”
Bardin concluded his interview to say he’s not “speaking to the news because (he) had the intention to be some kind of white knight or anything…but (he) knew if (he was) in a similar situation, she’d do the same” for him, and that he, “felt it was the right thing,” and has done his part.