The police chief, the mayor and a councilman from this small, southwestern Oklahoma town resigned Friday, saying they were fed up with the public attention and criticism they received after the chief's wife appeared in various nude poses on a Web site and the photos began circulating around town.
"This has turned into a media circus," Chief Tod Ozmun said Friday. "I don't feel like me staying in office is going to benefit my department or my staff. This has turned into a mess. This is ridiculous, absolutely ridiculous."
Dozens of local residents had called for Ozmun's resignation, but the City Council decided last week that Doris Ozmun's adult pictures were protected by the First Amendment. A prosecutor had called for an investigation.
The chief read a statement from Clifford Barnard, the councilman who resigned:
"The citizens' concerns that we were not enforcing religious and moral beliefs was very heartfelt and I don't want to be associated with their moral or religious beliefs because I've never read anywhere in the Good Book that the Lord wanted us to persecute those that did not hold the same morals or values."
Mayor Dale Moore also resigned.
"I think this is wrong and I won't put up with it," he told The Oklahoman. "I don't want to work in a community like this."
Shirely Anderson, who served as Snyder's mayor for five years until 1995 and whose husband, Billy Ray Anderson, was mayor for eight years before that, has been critical of the chief and his wife.
"They have no morals as far as I'm concerned," said Shirley Anderson. "That's the whole thing I think - morals. You should have respectable people in office. They need to go somewhere else where this is accepted."
Earlier Friday, the chief said the whole issue involving his 43-year-old wife had been blown out of proportion.
"People in this country do what she does on a daily basis," he said. "It's absolutely ludicrous. Makes no sense at all."
He said he has had lengthy discussions with his wife about the photos but does not tell her what to do.
"My wife is 6-foot-3 and weighs 300 pounds," he said. "If there is somebody that thinks they can control her, have at it. I have tried for 11 years and haven't been able to."
Demands for his removal reached a head at a packed City Council meeting last week. Council members met in executive session and Moore emerged with a statement saying no laws had been broken:
"As Mayor and council of the city of Snyder ... we do not endorse pornography; however, we do endorse an individual's rights under the First Amendment of freedom and expression."
But the bad feelings over the photos continued.
"I understand that it's probably not against the law. But you have to say it's a bad thing," Jim Toma, owner of Toma Discount Food, said Thursday at his store one block away from City Hall.
Cristen Edgar, a 16-year-old student at Snyder High School, also felt strongly about the issue.
"I don't think it's right for him to be the chief of police and for his wife to be doing what she's doing," Edgar said.
"They were vulgar," Larry Dismore, owner of Larry's Drugs in Snyder said of the photos, some showing the chief's wife with an American flag draped off her shoulder.
Tod Ozmun, 34, chief since January 2005, said he first met his wife 11 years ago. He said she is his former police partner.
He said conservative Oklahoma attitudes have a lot to do with all the attention being paid to his wife's photos.
"It's only the narrow-minded people that will scream the loudest," he said. "I'm from Hawaii originally. Oklahoma is a different kind of place. We were one of the last states in the nation to legalize tattooing."
He said he has received hundreds of e-mails, with about 70 percent from people who say he has been unfairly criticized.
Doris Ozmun, who was paroled in March 2005 after spending two years in the state prison system on drug-related charges, has an unlisted telephone number and has not been at her place of employment to comment.
She earlier told The Oklahoman she had decided to remove the photos from the Internet.
"I just don't understand," she told the newspaper. "I could if I had done something illegal, or if I had murdered someone. But this is amazing.
"You know what I call this? I call this a witch-hunt."
Kiowa County District Attorney John Wampler has asked the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation to look into the matter. Wampler has said the photos would not be protected under the First Amendment if they could be shown to meet the legal threshold for impermissible obscenity.
"In my opinion, the photos that I was shown are obscene based on local community standards," he said. "Whether a court would agree may be a different matter."