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
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Financial Director / FD / Senior Finance Manager

Up to 70k DOE: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Financial Director ...

Ashdown Group: IT Support Analyst - Luton - £24,000

£20000 - £24000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Support Analyst vacancy with a we...

Recruitment Genius: Instructional Training Designer

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic and interes...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse & Stores Supervisor

£16224 - £20280 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Warehouse & Stores Supervisor...

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen