- The Washington Times - Monday, March 24, 2008

DETROIT — Embattled Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and his former chief of staff have been charged with a dozen felony counts including perjury and conspiracy to obstruct justice in a text-messaging scandal that has rocked the city.

Wayne County prosecutor Kym Worthy announced the charges against the mayor this morning at a hearing in Detroit, sternly telling Mr. Kilpatrick that his actions in a secret police whistleblower settlement that cost the financially troubled city $8.4 million, showed that he had abused his office.

“Our investigation has clearly shown that public dollars were used, peoples lives were ruined, the justice system was severely mocked, and the public trust trampled,” Miss Worthy said.

The mayor had argued that intimate text messages he had exchanged on city-issued pagers were private between him and Christine Beatty, Miss Worthy denounced such a suggestion.

“This is as far from being a private matter as one can get,” she said.

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

“I look forward to complete exoneration once all the facts have been brought forth,” said Mr. Kilpatrick, a Democrat. “I will remain focused on moving this city forward.”

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

Mr. Kilpatrick could face up to 15 years in prison and be expelled from office if convicted.

Miss Worthy’s ruling came amid charges that Mr. Kilpatrick, the city’s youngest mayor and the son of a six-term congresswoman, settled a lawsuit over claims by three former Detroit police officers that they had been fired for investigating allegations against the mayor and his bodyguards.

As part of the settlement agreement, text messages Mr. Kilpatrick had exchanged with Miss Beatty were to be kept secret. Copies of the text messages, published in late January by local media, contradicted claims by the pair under oath in the case that their relationship was not romantic.

In the wake of the scandal, Mr. Kilpatrick, a lawyer, has steadfastly refused to resign, blaming the media and his opponents for his downfall in the settlement agreement, which he negotiated without the City Council’s knowledge.

Local unions, city leaders and Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox have called on Mr. Kilpatrick, who apologized to his wife and citizens in January, to resign. Last week, the City Council voted 7-1 to oust the beleaguered mayor, but its ruling is nonbinding. Under the city charter, he can be removed if he is convicted of a felony.

Miss Beatty resigned in February.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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