When he turned himself in to the police last week, Chris Williams was wearing his Ladmo shirt.
“I thought I’d state my case, explain what happened, and they’d send me home,” Williams says. “That’s not what happened.”
Instead Williams, the longtime president of the Wallace and Ladmo Fan Club, wound up in the pokey, charged with failure to observe an injunction he claims he was never served.
Williams’ arrest is the latest in an ongoing tussle between fan club founder Williams and Pierre O’Rourke, the former CEO of the Wallace and Ladmo Foundation, a nonprofit set up to offer arts scholarships to Arizona kids. Like thousands of locals, both men grew up watching The Wallace and Ladmo Show, a beloved kiddie program co-hosted by actor and local personality Pat McMahon and a pair of comics named Bill Thompson (Wallace) and Ladimir Kwiatkowski (Ladmo).
The live show aired for 35 years on then-independent KPHO, and is among the longest-running locally produced children’s shows in television history. Wallboy, Lad, and the various characters performed by McMahon live on in a permanent exhibit at the Arizona Historical Society Museum; various fan clubs, websites, and Facebook pages; and a line of sanctioned tchotchkes. And, lately, in the enduring battle between O’Rourke and
O’Rourke claims, in an injunction against Williams last year, that Williams has threatened him and other Foundation board members. While Williams admits to provoking and insulting O’Rourke on his Wallace and Ladmo Facebook page, he says he’s never threatened anyone. He also insists he was never served with a second injunction, the one that led to his arrest.
“On April 23, I called the Phoenix Police Department and told them I wanted to file a complaint of harassment and stalking against Pierre,” Williams said earlier this week. “They came to my apartment and I told them there was a warrant out for my arrest for ignoring an amended injunction I never received. They handcuffed me and took me in. I was there for 15 hours. I had to go through the humiliation of mugshots and fingerprinting. It was awful.”
Released on a pretrial bond, Williams will have his day in court on Monday, May 7, in conference with his assigned public defender.
“They’ll probably offer me a plea deal,” says the ultimate Ladmo fan, “which I will turn down, because I’m innocent. There is no way to prove I received an injunction.” A hearing a week later will, Williams insists, prove he was never served with that last injunction, and never threatened O’Rourke, his dog, or anyone else. He’s confident the charges will be dismissed.
In the meantime, Williams claims he’s the one who’s being harassed. “People are going through my trash, knocking on my door. Someone followed me to work the other day in their car.”
Williams admits he’s been needling O’Rourke for years on his personal Facebook page and one dedicated to Wallace and Ladmo.
“It’s freedom of speech,” he explains. “I’m not needling him because I don’t like him. I’m doing it because he’s trying to take control of all the Wallace and Ladmo stuff. He’s interfering with my life. My father taught me never to back down to a bully. I don’t make physical threats against him. I use satire and sarcasm to needle him. It’s what Wallace taught me.”
As they used to say on The Wallace and Ladmo Show, “Stay tuned. We’ll be right back with more fun stuff!”
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