Commissioner Admits to Online Sex Chats

By Matthew Mosk
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, April 7, 2006

A Maryland Public Service Commission member acknowledged yesterday that he used his state computer to engage in sexual conversations with an alleged prostitute but said he never committed a criminal act.

Charles R. Boutin issued a statement last night expressing his shame and sorrow for his conduct, but he said in a strikingly candid news release that his actions were part of an effort to deal with his impotency after surgery for bladder cancer.

"I committed no criminal act," said Boutin, appointed to the prominent state post by Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) last year after seven years as a Republican delegate from Harford County. "I acknowledge, however, that my judgment was morally wrong and I am ashamed and sorry."

Lawmakers from his area said yesterday that they believe he should resign from the $100,000-a-year post on the commission, which regulates state utilities.

"He should step down," said Del. Mary Dulany-James (D-Harford). "I'm sickened."

"I feel sorry for his wife," said Del. Joanne S. Parrott (R-Harford).

Boutin, who is 63 and married, issued the statement one day before documents from a Harford County Sheriff's Department investigation were to be released to The Washington Post, including 13 e-mails sent from his House of Delegates computer.

Boutin said the alleged prostitute arranged to meet him last summer, but he did not follow through. He said his e-mails turned up in a search of her computer.

Discussion about Boutin's e-mails have quietly circulated in Annapolis for more than two months. In February, Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr. (D) briefed House Speaker Michael E. Busch about a request from the Harford County prosecutor for computer hardware assigned to Boutin.

"I told them we would do everything we could to help them resolve their investigation," said Busch (D-Anne Arundel).

In an interview in February, Boutin said he was unaware of the probe and said he had "never paid for sex. I don't know anything about it."

Harford State's Attorney Joseph I. Cassilly (R) acknowledged the prostitution investigation at the time but said he did not expect to pursue charges against the men involved. "She was catering to a well-heeled clientele," Cassilly said. "We sort of just quit while we were ahead. The purpose was to go after her and shut her down."

During his years in Annapolis, Boutin was a chief sponsor of the Defense of Marriage Act, which prevents the state from recognizing same-sex marriages. Del. Richard S. Madaleno Jr. (D-Montgomery) called it "ironic that someone who professed to protect the sanctity of marriage was violating the sanctity of his own marriage."

In his statement yesterday, Boutin said his actions "deeply offended my family -- especially my wife. . . . I thank God for my wife's patience, love and forgiveness, as well as that of my children."

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