The scandal that imploded in October 2012 would forever change how Amarillo residents would recall longtime eccentric icon, Stanley March 3.

Named the defendant in a series of lawsuits filed by several underage teenage boys represented by a prominent Houston attorney, it was the beginning of the end for Marsh. Indeed, in the years that followed, all the way until his death, all the ugly details of Marsh's private life were hung for all to see.

But what was even more shocking about the scandal was how even longtime residents of the city had seemed to be shocked at the allegations. After all, it had happened before.

And it had all come out in a blistering, tell-all piece of media coverage by a well-established publisher. In fact, one could argue that the downfall of Marsh in October 2012 would not have been possible without the ominous uproar that began in October 1994.

Some may recall the incident with the chicken coop.

The Fiery Feud

See, Marsh had a long-standing feud with a local wealthy family. The feud in itself was outrageous, due in no small part to Marsh's petty antics.

Sarah Clark
Sarah Clark

Marsh also was not fond of when local teenagers would snatch up one of the many signs in his Dynamite Project. He reportedly went to great, theatrical lengths to retrieve his signs and instill fear in the hearts of who had stolen them.

“He made one of the kids cry when he said he was going to have the names of the kids’ parents read on the six o’clock news on Marsh’s television station.” one of his former employees told Skip Hollandsworth of Texas Monthly.

So when Marsh learned that the son of his wealthy nemesis was said to have snatched a sign--one can imagine the gleam of delight that shone in his eyes.

He rushed to where the sign had reportedly been transported to--and there he found the teenage boy asleep and alone, with the sign in his possession. Marsh began to berate the teenager, awakening him. And amidst the loud, profanity laden verbal assault, he backed the teenager into a chicken coop.

And locked it.

The Chicken Coop Lawsuit

While the boy was found by a family employee a short 15 minutes after he was locked in the chicken coop, it was far from the end of the traumatic experience. Marsh embarked on a year-long smear campaign against the boy and the boy's family--using the chicken coop incident as a method for humiliation.

Sarah Clark/TSM/Canva
Sarah Clark/TSM/Canva

Marsh had taken photos of the boy inside the chicken coop and provided schoolmates of the boy with copies and instructions to distribute the photograph at school. Notes were left on the boy's car, calling him the Chicken Man. These, among other tactics, continued until the boy's father decided enough was enough and filed a lawsuit against Marsh.

The Phone Calls

After the lawsuit was filed, the boy's father received a series of individual phone calls from several young men who had worked for Marsh. The young men shared their experiences of sexual indecency at the hands of Marsh.

According to the 1996 article published by Texas Monthly, the response to the statements of these young men was: "Marsh’s attorneys insisted that all three young men were chronic liars who hoped to get money from Marsh."

A Potter County grand jury indicted Marsh for assault and kidnapping, but declined to indict him for any sexual misdoings. The chicken coop lawsuit was eventually settled out-of-court (much like the lawsuits 20 years later), and Marsh was given probation for the criminal charges (which he served successfully).

Sarah Clark/TSM
Sarah Clark

The Foreshadowing

But just as memories can fade with Time, there is a stain often left behind that time cannot erase. Reading the 1996 article by Skip Hollandsworth about the Chicken Coop incident is chilling in retrospect.

Especially in a quote given by the boy's mother to Texas Monthly:

“Stanley has set up a trolling operation. He uses those signs to get a lot of kids into a compromising position, and he takes advantage of those one or two who are prone to homosexuality or who are from broken homes, are emotionally vulnerable, and just want some kind of affection.”


Editor's note: this is the second installation of a developing series intended to revisit the scandals that rocked Amarillo. You may read the first one here

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