Detroit Mayor indicted in text-messaging scandal

Once a rising star in the Democratic party, Detroit's Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick has been charged with eight felonies including perjury, obstruction of justice and misconduct in office in a text-messaging scandal that has riveted the city for months.

The investigation began after the Detroit Free Press published a string of steamy text messages revealing a romantic relationship between Mr Kilpatrick and his then chief of staff, Christine Beatty. Both denied the affair under oath during a lawsuit that followed, filed by two police officers who alleged they were fired for investigating claims the Mayor used his security unit to cover up extramarital affairs. "The justice system was severely mocked and public trust was trampled on," said the prosecutor Kym Worthy.

The announcement was the latest sex scandal to hit a top US politician, following hot on the heels of Eliot Spitzer's resignation as governor of New York after the revelation he had used high-class prostitutes.

The latest controversy with Mr Kilpatrick could even spill into presidential politics. The scandal has distracted Michigan Democrats as they try to find a way to make their delegates count in the race between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

Detroit City Council has called for the Mayor's resignation even as Mr Kilpatrick, who has likened his critics to a "lynch mob", seemed determined to brazen it out. He has vowed to remain in office and fight the charges.

"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."

If convicted of perjury, the 37-year-old could face up to 15 years in prison.