WEB SNEAK PEEK:
When it comes to history, Stan Ellsworth is a stickler for details.
But when it comes to his story, the host of BYUtv’s hit history series, American Ride, appears to have been prone to some good, old-fashioned revisionism.
At various times since the show debuted, three seasons back, Ellsworth has described himself, or been described in press and publicity materials, as an ex-NFL linebacker, a former first sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps, a defensive coordinator for the University of Arizona and University of Pennsylvania, a licensed high school teacher, and a history scholar with a PhD from the University of Utah.
A Salt Lake magazine investigation has uncovered significant questions about those claims. What’s more, according to Salt Lake County prosecutors, Ellsworth allegedly traded on his reputed past to defraud investors in a documentary project out of $30,000. Ellsworth pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor in that matter in December of 2010 and, under terms common to fraud cases, the plea was held in abeyance pending repayment of the victims at the rate of $800 per month. More than two years later, the biggest investor says he hasn’t seen a cent—and Ellsworth is due in Third District Court to answer that allegation on April 8.
It’s not clear when all the stories about Ellsworth’s past began, though many seem to be revisions of painful personal failures, including three divorces, a futile effort to play in the NFL, an aborted try for a graduate degree, a fruitless attempt to break more deeply into the NCAA coaching ranks and a messy termination from a job teaching history in the Salt Lake City School District.
Confronted with a list of apparent fabrications in March, Ellsworth maintained he was not responsible for most of the falsehoods—and denied outright any involvement in the story of his service in the Marines. Still, he acknowledged that he should have been “much more proactive in protecting the validity of who I am.”
“I’ve definitely made some mistakes,” he said. “And I’ll have to own up to those now.”
Matthew D. LaPlante’s complete profile on American Ride host Stan Ellsworthwill appear in the July edition of Salt Lake magazine.