Route 66 News

Cadillac Ranch patriarch faces serious charges in lawsuit

Stanley Marsh 3, owner of the Cadillac Ranch landmark near Route 66 near Amarillo, Texas, may face ugly days in a courtroom.

We’ll excerpt a couple of parts of the Amarillo Globe-News story, filed late Thursday:

An Amarillo woman has filed a civil lawsuit against Stanley Marsh 3, alleging he gave her teenage son cash, vehicles and drugs to engage in sexual acts in closed-door sessions with Marsh 3 in his downtown Amarillo office. […]

The suit claims that in 2010 and 2011, the 74-year-old Marsh 3 performed sex acts on the teen, then 15 and 16, and engaged in various sexual acts with him in Chase Tower offices.

Marsh’s attorney pledged to fight the allegations in court.

In case you’ve missed out a lot of stories on this website, Marsh in 1974 collaborated with the Ant Farm art collective to create Cadillac Ranch — 10 old Cadillacs planted nose-down at an angle into the soil west of Amarillo. Marsh also created the Dynamite Museum, a series of wacky road signs sprinkled along Route 66 corridor in the Texas Panhandle.

A few observations and other details from the newspaper’s story:

— The woman reported the allegations about Marsh and her son to police, but no charges have been filed. A civil suit actually could jeopardize any criminal investigation of Marsh, if there is one.

— The newspaper’s story makes clear Marsh has been previously sued and even criminally charged with indecent acts with children during the 1990s. However, in each case, the lawsuit with settled with no admission of wrongdoing by Marsh, or the charges were dropped.

— The lawsuit cast a wide net. In addition to Marsh being sued, so were his wife, son, a business associate, one of Marsh’s companies, and the landlord for Marsh’s offices. Such a lawsuit has the appearance of a money grab. If the plaintiffs were so concerned about other people having information about Marsh, a subpoena would suffice in getting those details.

— It appears Marsh is in poor health, including suffering a series of strokes in late 2011. He apparently was in such bad shape, his wife was appointed his guardian. It brings up the question of whether Marsh will be competent and/or healthy enough to testify.

I’ve never met Marsh, so I have no opinion on him personally. Reactions of Route 66 people who have met him have been mixed. Depending on who you talk to, Marsh ranges from playful and capricious to grumpy and ego-maniacal.

I do admire his whimsy and audacity with his art projects. Cadillac Ranch is the stuff of which legends are made on Route 66 — regardless of the character of its creator.

UPDATE 11/1/2012: Two more civil lawsuits on the behalf of alleged victims have been filed in recent days.


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