Anti-gay mayor outed and accused of molesting boys

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The Independent US

A political storm has broken over Washington state after a newspaper alleged that the Mayor of Spokane, well known for opposing gay rights, once molested young boys and has been using the perks of his office to lure men into having sex.

A political storm has broken over Washington state after a newspaper alleged that the Mayor of Spokane, well known for opposing gay rights, once molested young boys and has been using the perks of his office to lure men into having sex.

The Spokesman-Review backed its story with excerpts from exchanges, conducted on a gay-oriented web site, between the Republican Mayor, James West, and a person he believed was a 17-year-old boy. In fact, the "teen" was a computer specialist hired by the newspaper.

"Guys like you don't come along very often," the Mayor, 54, wrote in one conversation on the gay.com website, identifying himself as RightBi-Guy. "I want it to last. Am I crazy here?" He invited his chatting partner to his office in City Hall, offered him gifts and hinted that he might give him an internship.

Potentially more grave are the allegations that Mr West molested two young men more than 25 years ago when he was a sheriff's deputy in the city. He denied those charges, but in doing so more or less acknowledged his interest in sex with men.

The alleged victims both have criminal records, and neither the police nor prosecutors have shown any interest in investigating the cases so far.

The latest affair was described by one state legislator as an "earthquake".

Before becoming Mayor of Spokane, the second largest city in the state, Mr West served in the state legislature, eventually becoming his party's most senior member of the state senate. He apparently harboured greater ambitions.

"Remember, I'm very closeted," he wrote in one of the on-line conversations. "No one knows I like guys." He added at another point, "Some day I may run for governor and this would be bad, if you know what I mean."

The Seattle Times called for Mr West's resignation in an editorial yesterday, arguing that he can no longer serve Spokane while dealing with the molestation claims. But so far, he has given no indication of any intention to step down.

Mr West has opposed various gay rights measures in the past, threatening only last week to block an attempt by Spokane City Council to extend benefits to the same-sex partners of city employees. He once proposed barring gays and lesbians from working in Washington's schools. "West must face the hypocrisy of his stances on gay rights as a state legislator and Mayor", The Seattle Times said.

The Mayor apologised to city employees in an e-mail on Friday.

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