When he was publisher of The Arizona Republic in Phoenix four years ago, Darrow (Duke) Tully was forced out of his job because of an embarrassing disclosure that he had masqueraded for 30 years as a decorated Air Force combat pilot.
After leaving Phoenix, Tully emerged about a year later as editor and publisher of the Ojai Valley News and has spent the last three years relatively free of public controversy.
Now, however, Tully faces another potentially embarrassing charge--this one filed by the Ventura County district attorney's office, which is accusing him of shooting a neighbor's dog in the head with either a BB gun or a pellet gun.
Baby, a 10-year-old cockapoo mix owned by Mary Bishop, a 66-year-old Ojai widow, has fully recovered from his wound. The dog was reportedly wandering in Tully's yard on Oct. 24 when struck in the head by something, allegedly either a BB or a pellet fired by Tully.
Mindful of Tully's local prominence, the district attorney's office was unusually discreet this week in discussing the circumstances of the alleged BB gun assault on Baby. But Deputy Dist. Atty. Richard Schimmel did disclose that Tully has been charged with one count of cruelty to animals and has been ordered to appear for arraignment in Ventura County Municipal Court on Jan. 5.
Schimmel said he was told by a superior not to discuss details of what led to the shooting. He said that the maximum penalty for the charge Tully faces is a year in jail and a $20,000 fine.
Bishop was only slightly more forthcoming this week in describing the alleged shooting. She said Baby had squirmed through her fence along with another dog, a black Labrador named Ebony, owned by her son, and that the two dogs had apparently run into Tully's yard.
She didn't see the shooting herself, she said. Describing herself as a lover of animals, she said she still gets upset when she thinks that anybody could have shot Baby, although she did concede that the animal "is not a real friendly" dog.
Tully was not available for comment on the dog-shooting charge. An editor at the Ojai newspaper said the publisher had gone back to Arizona for a few days.