Detroit mayor charged with perjury, says he will be exonerated
Associated Press Writer
Glenwood Springs, Colorado
DETROIT (AP) ” Six years after being sworn into office with hopes of revitalizing his troubled city, Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick is under increasing pressure to resign now that he’s been booked on charges of lying about steamy text messages with his former chief of staff.
The former aide, Christine Beatty, went through the same booking process, the first step in criminal arraignments scheduled for Tuesday afternoon.
Attorneys for Kilpatrick and Beatty said Monday their clients would be exonerated.
Both were accused of multiple counts of perjury, conspiracy, obstruction of justice and misconduct in a scandal that is threatening to prematurely end Kilpatrick’s second term as mayor of Detroit, a city of 900,000 with deeply entrenched poverty made worse by the downturn in the auto industry.
Kilpatrick met with the leaders of several philanthropic organizations Tuesday morning, just hours before his arraignment.
Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy announced the charges after an investigation that began in late January after the Detroit Free Press published excerpts from 14,000 text messages that were sent or received in 2002-03 from Beatty’s city-issued pager.
The messages called into question testimony Kilpatrick and Beatty gave last August in a lawsuit filed by two police officers who said they were fired for investigating claims that the mayor used his security unit to cover up extramarital affairs.
In court, Kilpatrick and Beatty strongly denied having an intimate relationship. But the text messages revealed a flirty, sometimes sexually explicit, dialogue about where to meet and how to conceal their trysts.
Kilpatrick, 37, is married with three children. Beatty, also 37, was married at the time and has two children.
The city eventually agreed to pay $8.4 million to the two officers and a third former officer. Some of the charges brought against the mayor accuse him of agreeing to the settlement in an effort to keep the text messages from becoming public.
“I’m madly in love with you,” Kilpatrick wrote on Oct. 3, 2002.
“I hope you feel that way for a long time,” Beatty replied. “In case you haven’t noticed, I am madly in love with you, too!”
On Oct. 16, 2002, Kilpatrick wrote: “I’ve been dreaming all day about having you all to myself for 3 days. Relaxing, laughing, talking, sleeping and making love.”
All of the charges against the mayor are felonies. Under the city charter, a felony conviction would mean the mayor’s immediate expulsion.
Worthy said her investigation was about violations of the public trust, and not “focused on lying about sex.”
“This investigation is about whether public dollars were used unlawfully, and more,” she said.
Kilpatrick said Worthy’s actions were disappointing, but not unexpected.
“This has been a very flawed process from the very beginning,” he said. “However, at the same time, I recognize that this is merely a first step in a process that I believe in, that’s grounded in a presumption of innocence that is guaranteed to each and every American.”
Worthy said the investigation was ongoing and other people could be charged. She said she has had conversations with the U.S. attorney, but would not elaborate.
In announcing the charges, Worthy delivered a 14-minute lecture on the oath that all witnesses take before testifying in court.
“Even children understand that lying is wrong,” she said. “If a witness lies, innocent people can go to jail or prison, people can literally get away with murder, civil litigants who deserve money may not get it or may get money they don’t deserve.
“And lying cannot be tolerated even if a judge or jury sees through it.”
Mayer Morganroth, Beatty’s attorney, called Worthy’s comments full of “assertions and conjecture.”
“I was sort of stunned by the prosecutor laying out the charges in the way that she did,” he said, noting Beatty’s right to a fair and unbiased trial. “It sounded more like a closing argument to a jury.”
The mayor’s lawyer, Dan Webb, said he plans to attack the text messages and ask a judge to prevent them from being admitted as evidence.
“I am as certain as I stand here that the initial production of those text messages in fact were illegal under the law,” Webb said.
Controversy has surrounded Kilpatrick since his 2001 election. Embraced by many residents for his boldness and confidence, Kilpatrick, then 31, embodied the new black politician and wore a diamond stud earring that helped earn him the unofficial title of “Hip-Hop Mayor.” His mother is Democratic U.S. Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick.
During his first four years, he caused a furor over his use of his city-issued credit card for expensive travel, the city’s lease of a luxury Lincoln Navigator for his wife and unsubstantiated allegations of a wild party involving his security team and strippers at the mayor’s mansion.
At the start of his second term, Kilpatrick vowed to not make the same mistakes and announced a residential redevelopment along Detroit’s dormant riverfront, hosted a Super Bowl that spotlighted the city’s renewal efforts and initiated other
improvements. He had been expected to seek a third term in 2009.
Despite calls from the City Council and Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox to step down, Kilpatrick has said he will not resign.
The Detroit Free Press and The Detroit News separately called for Kilpatrick’s resignation in editorials posted Monday night on their Web sites.
“Our call for him to resign has nothing to do with the ultimate verdict in court, whether innocent or guilty,” Free Press vice president and editor Paul Anger said in a statement e-mailed to The Associated Press. “The reason we are calling for the mayor to resign is to spare Detroit the distraction and pain of weeks, months and possibly years of turmoil with a mayor who won’t be able to focus on his job and a lingering, hurtful spectacle in front of the country.”
The Detroit News said the “charges place a cloud over Kilpatrick that greatly reduce his effectiveness.”
Forcing him to step down now would punish Kilpatrick before he has had his day in court, Webb said.
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