The rent boy and me: pastor tells all (but no kiss)

Anti-gay activist says he is victim of 'misleading innuendo' over holiday snap with male escort

I did not have sex with that rent boy; God's honest truth. That's the line being heroically maintained by George Rekers, the Baptist minister and vocal critic of gay rights, who was photographed returning from a 10-day European vacation with a male prostitute. It's his story, and he's sticking to it.

In an exclusive interview with The Independent, Dr Rekers, 61, who has three children and believes that homosexuality is a "disease" which can be cured, has explained the misunderstanding which saw him accidentally hire a blond Puerto Rican sex worker to help carry his bags during a trip to London and Madrid last month.

The prominent evangelical conservative, who co-founded the influential right-wing Family Research Council, became an international punch-line earlier this week when it emerged that his travelling companion was a 20-year-old escort who works under the aliases "Lucien" and "Geo" and advertises at www.rentboy.com.

Comedians including David Letterman and Jay Leno have gleefully joked about the exact nature of the baggage that Dr Rekers needed carrying. They have also pored over "Lucien's" profile on the exotic site, where he's described as "un-cut" and has listed his hobbies as "vanilla, leather, shaving, spanking, role-play and go-go dancing."

Yet Dr Rekers vehemently denies any sexual relationship with the perfectly proportioned youth. Instead, he claims to have hired "Lucien" on doctors' orders, after surgery left him unable to lift heavy objects. He only discovered the true nature of "Lucien's" profession halfway through the foreign trip, when it was too late to dispense with his professional services.

"I still needed a travel assistant to assist me for the remainder of the trip and did not have time to find someone in Europe," Dr Rekers insisted yesterday.

"My travel assistant was well behaved and never made any sexual advances to me. He was actually gone much of the day and night anyway, touring himself, when I did not need him. While the situation was certainly not ideal, I could adjust to it."

Dr Rekers was speaking from the University of South Carolina School of Medicine, where he describes himself as a "distinguished professor of neuropsychiatry and behavioural science emeritus" who is an expert lecturer on childhood and teenage sexuality.

A somewhat damning photograph of the duo at Miami International Airport published by the Miami New Times showed Dr Rekers arranging heavy bags on a luggage trolley, while "Lucien" stood decoratively to one side. However he insists that it does not undermine his version of events.

"Pushing a trolley is not a problem for me," he said. "My surgeon's instructions are that I should not lift any object more than a few pounds because lifting is what would do damage to my body. My travel assistant lifted our suitcases from the conveyor belt and placed them on the trolley for me. He volunteered to push the trolley, which was nice but not necessary."

The big question now revolves around how exactly "Lucien" was hired. The New Times has quoted the sex worker claiming that Dr Rekers – who has appeared in court as an expert witness opposing gay adoption – had initially contacted him through www.rentboy.com.

But Dr Rekers strongly disputes this "slanderous" version of events. Although he refused to confirm or deny that he had ever visited the explicit website, which contains hundreds of pornographic images of men, he claims to have employed the travel assistant "by interviewing different people who might be able to help".

In fact, Dr Rekers maintains, he "did not even find out about [the] prostitution activity until after the trip was in progress. There was nothing inappropriate with this relationship."

When the scandal first broke, Dr Rekers compared himself to the son of God, who is said to have broken bread with the prostitute Mary Magdalene. "Like Jesus Christ," he told a reporter, he liked to spend time "with sinners with the loving goal to try to help them".

As to a leaked email he sent to "Lucien" discussing a second trip to Rome, which read: "Wow! I'm so glad I met you!" and announced that they would be sharing a twin bedroom, Dr Rekers claimed to again be the victim of "misleading innuendo".

That message, he said, was sent "before the 30 March departure to Madrid on which he assisted me, and before I found out about his internet advertisements offering prostitution activity, which I discovered after the trip was in progress."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm today
News
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
Sport
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
News
Billie Whitelaw was best known for her close collaboration with playwright Samuel Beckett, here performing in a Beckett Trilogy at The Riverside Studios, Hammersmith
people'Omen' star was best known for stage work with Samuel Beckett
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Telesales & Customer Service Executives - Outbound & Inbound

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Recruitment Genius: National Account Manager / Key Account Sales

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment Consultant

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We have an excellent role for a...

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'