Yesterday, MNB reported on the case of John Morgan Campbell, the former H-E-B executive who was instrumental in the development of its Central Market concept, who has been charged with 53 counts of child pornography and is facing up to 600 years in prison if convicted; Campbell is accused of having graphic images and videos of underage boys on work devices.

I commented:

Even allowing for the fact that people are innocent until proven guilty, the news coverage suggests that the evidence is overwhelming, and that the defense isn’t denying the existence of the pics on Campbell’s computer - just trying to find legal reasons to mitigate the legal damage to his case.

It pains me to write this story. I know John Campbell. I’ve spent some time with him looking at stores, taking advantage of his insights. He took me to dinner once when I was in Austin. I found him to be extraordinarily knowledgeable, gifted in his understanding of retail, and extremely charming. I know people who have known him for a long time, people of strong moral character who must now be at an utter loss. It is difficult for me to reconcile the man I knew, if only a little bit, with the man whose portrait is being painted in deep, dark and disturbing colors in a Texas courtroom. I am, in a word, gobsmacked.


This prompted an email from MNB reader Heather DeLuca:

I’ve never responded to any comments by KC, but this really is disturbing.  I understand that KC has a bit of a history with Mr. Campbell, but just because he was a nice guy to him doesn’t mean he’s not an evil disgusting human being.  Many people are “nice guys” in front of the masses, but hide deep dark secrets.  He looks at child porn for gods sakes!  He could very well be a child molester and KC brings up all the good things about this guy.  This is why “nice guy” bad people don’t go to jail.  It’s almost as if you are giving him an excuse, why is that?  Oh I forgot it’s because he said nice things to you and gave you some great knowledge, whatever!

If I in any way appeared to be excusing or explaining Campbell’s behavior with my comments yesterday, I apologize. That certainly was not my intention.

In fact, I was just trying to communicate the bafflement of finding out that someone I knew appeared to be have committed such horrible acts. We read all the time about people who do terrible things, from holding child porn on their computers to committing mass murder … but it is rare that we actually know the person that did it. This can be hard to reconcile, but that doesn’t mean that there are excuses or explanations. That’s what I was trying to communicate.

I’ll also say this. I’ve gotten a number of emails about this story from folks who did not want them posted. It is fair to say that there were people who were completely surprised by this, but there also were people who were not surprised at all. Which makes it all even harder to understand.

But there are no excuses, no explanations.