DETROIT (AP) — 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.
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.
“Some have suggested that the issues in this case are personal or private,” Worthy said.
“The justice system has been severely mocked and the public trust trampled on. … This case is about as far from being a private matter as one can get,” she said.
The charges could signal the end of Kilpatrick’s six-year career as mayor of one of America’s largest cities.
Perjury is a felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison. But for Kilpatrick, a conviction also would mean his immediate expulsion from office. The Detroit City Charter calls for any elected official convicted of a felony while in office to be removed.
Kilpatrick has said he would not resign and last week said he expects to be vindicated when all aspects of the scandal are made public.
The mayor was expected to hold a news conference at noon. Worthy said she expected the mayor and Beatty to turn themselves in by 7 a.m. Tuesday.
Worthy has said she and her staff have pored over more than 40,000 pages of documents since January, when the Detroit Free Press published excerpts of sexually explicit text messages sent to Beatty’s city-issued pager in 2002 and 2003.
The messages contradict statements Kilpatrick and Beatty gave under oath during a whistleblowers’ trial last summer when each denied a romantic relationship. Kilpatrick is married with three children. Beatty was married at the time and has two children.
Their testimony came 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.
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!”
In all, 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.
Worthy also 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.