Detroit Mayor Charged In Sex Scandal

Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick gives his State of the City address in Detroit, Tuesday, March 11, 2008. Briefly alluding to a text-messaging sex scandal that could lead to perjury charges and removal from office, Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick delivered his seventh State of the City address Tuesday to what he called a "transformed Detroit."
AP Photo/Carlos Osorio
Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, a one-time rising star and Detroit's youngest elected leader, was charged Monday with perjury and other counts after sexually explicit text messages contradicted his sworn denials of an affair with a top aide.

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy also charged the popular yet polarizing 37-year-old mayor with obstruction of justice and misconduct in office. Kilpatrick could face up to 15 years in prison and be expelled from office if convicted.

Speaking several hours later, Kilpatrick said he expects to be cleared.

"I look forward to complete exoneration once all the facts have been brought forth," he said. "I will remain focused on moving this city forward."

Former Chief of Staff Christine Beatty, 37, who also denied under oath that she and Kilpatrick had a romantic relationship in 2002 and 2003, was charged with perjury and obstruction of justice. A message seeking comment from Beatty's attorney, Jeffrey Morganroth, was not returned.

"Some have suggested that the issues in this case are personal or private," Worthy said. "Our investigation has clearly shown that public dollars were used, people's lives were ruined, the justice system severely mocked and the public trust trampled on. ... This case is about as far from being a private matter as one can get."

The charges could signal the end of Kilpatrick's six-year career as mayor of one of America's largest cities. Calls for his resignation have surfaced since late January and the Detroit City Council asked him to step down last week.

Worthy began her investigation the day after the Free Press published excerpts of the embarrassing text messages in late January. The messages called into question testimony Kilpatrick and Beatty gave in a lawsuit filed by two police officers who alleged they were fired for investigating claims that the mayor used his security unit to cover up extramarital affairs.

In court, Kilpatrick and Beatty denied having an intimate relationship, but the text messages reveal that they carried on a flirty, sometimes sexually explicit dialogue about where to meet and how to conceal their trysts.

Kilpatrick is married with three children. Beatty was married at the time and has two children.

The city agreed to pay $8.4 million to the two officers and a third former officer who filed a separate lawsuit. Documents released last month showed Kilpatrick agreed to the settlement in an effort to keep the text messages from becoming public.

The text messages published by the Free Press revealed a romantic discourse.

"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!"

Worthy filed eight counts against Kilpatrick and seven against Beatty.

Perjury is a felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison. A felony conviction would mean Kilpatrick's immediate expulsion from office under the Detroit City Charter.

Kilpatrick faces charges of conspiracy to obstruct justice, obstruction of justice, misconduct in office, perjury in a court proceeding and two counts of perjury other than in a court proceeding.

Beatty is charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice, obstruction of justice, two counts of perjury in a court proceeding and two counts of perjury other than in a court proceeding.

For Beatty, who attended high school with Kilpatrick and managed his campaigns for Michigan's state House and the mayor's office, the scandal forced her to resign.

City lawyers and Kilpatrick's attorneys waged a futile legal battle to keep documents related to the lawsuit settlement and text messages from public eyes.

Calls for his resignation surfaced in late January from some city union leaders and Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox repeated that call.

Earlier this month, Kilpatrick lashed out at his opponents and the news media, accusing them of showing a "lynch mob mentality" in the aftermath of the scandal.

It happened as he finished reading the written text released before his State of the City address, which had only a brief allusion to the text-message controversy.

Kilpatrick, who is black, said he and his family have been subjected to racial slurs, as well as threats.

"In the past three days, I've received more death threats than I have in my entire administration," he said. "I've heard these words before, but I've never heard them said about my wife and children," he continued, his voice rising as he wagged his fingers and gestured with his arms.

"I don't believe that a Nielsen rating is worth the life of my children or your children. This unethical, illegal, lynch mob mentality has to stop."