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Paula Deen defended by African American staff member

By VERONICA LINARES, UPI.com   |   July 1, 2013 at 12:12 PM  |  Updated July 1, 2013 at 1:31 PM   |   Comments

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July 1 (UPI) -- Paula Deen's list of defenders has gotten a brand new member who claims the celebrity chef is anything but racist. O'Neal Bailey, a former staff member of Deen's who happens to be African American, told Inside Edition he's never heard the reality star use the n-word.

"She's a joker but as far as being a racist, I've never seen that," Bailey said.

Asked if he had ever heard Deen used racial slurs to describe him, his answer was, "no."

"I have never, ever heard her use the n-word to describe anybody in my presence," he said.

In recent weeks, Deen has seen several work deals fall through following her admission to using a racial slur in a May 17 deposition. In a matter of ten days the celebrity chef was fired by the Food Network, got axed as Smithfield spokeswoman, lost deals with Wal-Mart, J.C. Penney, Walgreens, Sears, Kmart and Target and was most recently dropped by her publisher.

During her first public appearance since she admitted to using the racial slur during a "plantation style" wedding, Deen said she wasn't racist and that she "didn't know" whether the n-word was offensive to black people.

"I have asked myself that so many times. It's very distressing for me to go into kitchens and hear what these young people are calling each other, " she told Matt Lauer. "I think for this problem to be worked on, these young people are gonna have to take control and start showing respect for each other."

It's been rumored that Deen hired crisis handler Judy Smith -- who is reportedly the basis for Kerry Washington’s character on ABC’s "Scandal" -- to help her with damage control.

Piers Morgan and the robber at whom Deen once shouted the racial slur have come forward to defend her.

"I really feel for her." said Eugene Thomas King Jr., who pointed a gun at Paula Deen during a 1987 bank robbery. "She's being persecuted because of that one little mistake in her judgment. She was acting out of anger."

During her deposition for a $1.2 million lawsuit filed in 2012 Deen admitted to using the n-word during the robbery and while planning a wedding party for which she wanted the waiters to dress and act like slaves.

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