Rich Stripp, editor of the Lake County Leader, says he interviewed Ellena on several occasions and that "he never said anything racist to me."
"Frank is very concerned about the nation moving away from its people," Stripp says, "and he's got some different ideas. But I never heard him talk anti-Semitic."
When contacted by New Times, Selden was hesitant to discuss the story on Ellena, but admitted that he never went to a Forum gathering or talked to other members before writing his piece.
"I just knew Ellena was involved in the racist stuff," Selden tells New Times. "But please don't quote me . . . Ellena is a dangerous, paranoid man. He definitely would kill me if he knew I was talking to you."
Editors at the Missoulian did not return calls from New Times about the Selden story.
The story was a bombshell. Although Ellena steadfastly maintains he never passed racist literature to Selden or uttered racist comments, he lost the election handily.
Worse, he says, his personal life suffered a devastating hit.
"That story was the beginning of my undoing," Ellena says. "The pressure became incredible, because a lot of people believed that crap.
"I was newly married, and the stress of the situation was just too much for us to take. My wife left me. I lost my farm, and I knew my chances for working in education again in the area were pretty low."
Ellena, smarting from the blows to his personal and public aspirations, packed his bags and moved to Arizona--where his wife had fled. He hoped "to get somewhere far enough away so that I could patch up my marriage, find work, put the accusations behind me and get my life back on track."
Arizona, it turned out, wasn't far enough.
@body:Ellena quickly found new employment as a combination principal and superintendent of schools in the tiny burg of Young, near Payson, where he supervised about 70 students.
He set to work establishing a sports program, improving the school building and grounds and, in his spare time, attending counseling sessions with his wife in Flagstaff.
A predominantly conservative, Christian community, Young was especially receptive to Ellena's education "reforms." He quickly pulled several books out of the school library--one on Satanism and another on divorce and alternative sexual lifestyles.
"I didn't think we should have books on the devil for students, nor did I think that we should have a health book that taught easy ways to get a divorce or about alternate sexual lifestyles," he says.
Ellena, who still wears a gold wedding band despite his divorce, believes that "when you get married, under God's law, the woman becomes femme covert. In other words, she becomes basically her husband's property and has no right to sue for divorce. The femi-Nazis out there might object to that, but that's the way it is.
"So why should we be teaching children something they have no right to do?"
Ellena freely admits that his personal beliefs weighed heavily on administrative decisions at the school--especially his encouragement to teachers to apply "Christian principles" in the classroom. But he says he was merely acting in accordance with the wishes of the school board, which sanctioned his decisions on the books.
"All was well," Ellena says. "The school was doing good, the school board was happy. I thought I had found a home."
But soon Ellena began quarreling with several teachers over work hours. The school was on a four-day schedule, but the teachers, he says, were not working 40-hour weeks. The teachers were also annoyed because Ellena required women to wear dresses and men jackets and ties.
The school board continued to support Ellena. But the teachers remained unhappy--and a few months into Ellena's tenure, they went on the offensive.
Ellena arrived at school one day in late November 1991 to find his office filled with reporters and television cameras. Many of the reporters were clutching copies of Selden's Missoulian story, which had been distributed by two teachers.
Ellena's brief, happy idyll in Young was over.
After Ellena threw him out of his office and refused to grant an interview, the Arizona Republic's Rich Robertson produced a long, critical story on Ellena in early December 1991. Robertson alluded to the charges of racism contained in Selden's piece and introduced an array of new allegations about his behavior in Young--almost all from anonymous sources.
Robertson cited Ellena's efforts to "disband the school's fledgling wrestling team because of his fears that AIDS could be transmitted through sweat"--a homophobic theory, the story pointed out, that has been widely discredited by medical experts.