CHARLESTON, W.Va. A decade ago, a series of explicit messages were posted under the name of a former professional wrestler who's now running in West Virginia's 8th District Senate race.
The comments -- posted on the pro wrestling website crowza.com -- degraded teenage girls, the mentally handicapped and women with breast cancer.
The candidate, Joshua Martin, 35, acknowledged Wednesday that he posted comments -- some risqué -- on the message board, while playing the role of a fictitious wrestling character. But he said his posts had nothing offensive or degrading to women.
Martin said the wrestling promoters had six writers that posted under his wrestling alias, "Silver Bullet Chris Sterling," and one of those employees wrote the sexually explicit comments.
"I know there's explicit stuff on there, and I'm ashamed to be associated with stuff like that," Martin said. "I can't tell you who did it, but I can tell you that's not something I would do."
For the past six weeks, Martin said, people have threatened to expose the decade-old website postings unless he dropped out of the Senate race. He's running as a Democrat against Republican Chris Walters.
Last week, several Charleston media outlets received packages with documents about Martin's former pro wrestling career, along with copies of the sexually explicit and vulgar messages. Someone highlighted the most offensive messages with a yellow pen.
The same people, Martin said, have tried to get him fired from his job at a Charleston law firm, and contacted state Democratic Party officials, asking them to persuade Martin to end his campaign.
Martin blames Walters, his opponent in the race, for orchestrating a campaign to "make me into a demon."
"For someone to try to destroy my life. It's extortion. It's blackmail. It's everything people hate about politics," Martin said. "I'm not an angel. I'm not a saint. But I'm not a pig either."
Walters, 26, said he knew that people had tried to persuade Martin to quit the race. But Walters said they were not affiliated with his campaign.
"This information was brought to me as it was brought to other people, but at the end of the day, I wasn't the one who wrote this," Walters said. "We all must take responsibility for our actions."
Martin, who's the son of Delegate Helen Martin, D-Putnam, and the late Delegate Dale Martin, wrestled for a few years for Xtreme Maximum Championship Wrestling, which held shows in Nitro, Rand, Charleston and St. Albans. XMCW closed last year.
Martin said one of the XMCW writers at the time was Sherwood Spencer, who's now Chris Walters' brother-in-law. Martin alleges that Spencer brought the messages to the attention of Walters' campaign -- and could have written some of the offensive posts under the "Chris Sterling" account.
"Everyone knew I was Chris Sterling," Martin said. "Everyone knew my password was 'Megadeth.' At least six people, including [Spencer], had access to that account."
Spencer said he did not notify Walters' campaign about the sexually explicit posts and never wrote messages as "Chris Sterling" or "Silver Bullet." He also said XMCW did not have a stable of writers who wrote comments for wrestlers.
"That's absolutely false," said Spencer, who is a former wrestling manager. "People would post messages as their characters, but no one posted under anyone else's name."
Martin's response: "He's a liar. I feel completely and totally betrayed by everyone I thought were my brothers."
Spencer, the son of former Kanawha County Delegate Sharon Spencer, also posted comments on the message board -- some sexually explicit -- under his "Woody Numbers" wrestling alias.
Of the message board comments posted under the names of "Chris Sterling" and "Silver Bullet," several were signed "Josh Martin," "Joshua," and "Josh." Those messages weren't sexually explicit.
Martin said he was playing a character -- one that wrestling fans were supposed to hate. His slogan: "Ladies, it's amazing. The Silver Bullet always fills you up and never lets you down."