Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick refuses to resign and vows to fight several charges brought against him by Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy. Kilpatrick faces eight felonies and Christine Beatty, his former chief of staff, faces seven felonies, including perjury, obstruction of justice, and misconduct in office. Worthy announced the 12-count criminal indictment Monday stating Kilpatrick and Beatty lied under oath during a whistle-blowers’ trial last summer when they denied having a romantic relationship.
The charges could signal the end of Kilpatrick’s six-year term as mayor of one of America’s largest and heavily populated black cities. Penalties for the charges range from five to 15 years in prison. A perjury conviction is punishable by up to 15 years in prison and could force Kilpatrick to resign.
Detroit’s one-time rising star and youngest elected leader said this afternoon that he was deeply disappointed but not surprised by the prosecutor’s decision, during a press conference where he read from a written statement. “This has been a very flawed process from the very beginning.” He said that he recognized that “this is the first step in a process that I believe in that is grounded in the presumption of innocence that is guaranteed to each and every American citizen by the Constitution of these United States. I look forward to complete exoneration once all the facts surrounding this matter have been brought forth.”
In the meantime, Kilpatrick said that he will remain focused on moving the city of Detroit forward with key initiatives, such as modernizing its police force, expanding the city’s workforce development department efforts to prepare citizens for jobs, and presenting the city council with an economic stimulus package.
Dan Webb, the mayor’s chief counsel, also responded during the press conference to charges that he claims he has only listened to orally (referring to Worthy’s new conference). Webb said that he was still waiting for formal charges to be put into a written complaint. But assured that the mayor is ready to proceed and is ready to go to court today for arraignment.
The County prosecutor had given Kilpatrick and Beatty 24 hours to turn themselves in. “Let me be very, very clear, this was not an investigation focused on lying about sex,” she told reporters earlier today. “This investigation was whether public dollars were used unlawfully and much, much more,” said Worthy. “President Theodore Roosevelt once said ‘no man is above the law and no man is below it. In this case we asked ‘can we charge perjury? Yes. Are there other crimes and offenses we can charge other than perjury? Yes. Should we charge? Yes.”
Sexually explicit cell phone text messages allegedly sent by Kilpatrick, 37, to Beatty, 37, contradicted statements the two gave when each denied an extramarital affair. Worthy began her investigation in January after the Detroit Free Press published excerpts of the text messages sent to Beatty’s city-issued pager in 2002 and 2003. Kilpatrick had approved a confidential settlement of the whistleblower lawsuit that cost city taxpayers $8.4 million.
Webb said that he