Evangelical Leader Says He Bought Meth

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By CATHERINE TSAI
The Associated Press
Friday, November 3, 2006; 10:49 PM

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- The Rev. Ted Haggard said Friday he bought methamphetamine and received a massage from a male prostitute. But the influential Christian evangelist insisted he threw the drugs away and never had sex with the man.

Haggard, who as president of the National Association of Evangelicals wielded influence on Capitol Hill and condemned both gay marriage and homosexuality, resigned on Thursday after a Denver man named Mike Jones claimed that he had many drug-fueled trysts with Haggard.

On Friday, Haggard said that he received a massage from Jones after being referred to him by a Denver hotel, and that he bought meth for himself from the man.

But Haggard said he never had sex with Jones. And as for the drugs, "I was tempted, but I never used it," the 50-year-old Haggard told reporters from his vehicle while leaving his home with his wife and three of his five children.

Jones, 49, denied selling meth to Haggard. "Never," he told MSNBC. Haggard "met someone else that I had hooked him up with to buy it."

Jones also scoffed at the idea that a hotel would have sent Haggard to him.

"No concierge in Denver would have referred me," he said. He said he had advertised himself as an escort only in gay publications or on gay Web sites.

Jones did not immediately return calls from The Associated Press on Friday.

In addition to resigning his post at the NAE, which claims 30 million members, Haggard stepped aside as leader of his 14,000-member New Life Church pending a church investigation. In a TV interview this week, he said: "Never had a gay relationship with anybody, and I'm steady with my wife, I'm faithful to my wife."

In Denver, where Jones said his encounters with Haggard took place, police said in a news release they planned to contact the people involved for information on whether a crime was committed. The statement did not say whether an investigation was under way, and police spokeswoman Virginia Quinones declined to elaborate.

Lynn Kimbrough, a spokeswoman for the district attorney's office, said that a public admission isn't enough by itself to bring a case, but that charges will be filed if criminal conduct can be proved.

Jones claims Haggard paid him for sex nearly every month for three years until August. He said Haggard identified himself as "Art." Jones said that he learned who Haggard really was when he saw the evangelical leader on television.


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© 2006 The Associated Press

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