Church Leader Admits Buying Drug and Getting Massage From Gay Escort
Friday, November 3, 2006; 5:14 PM
One of the nation's most influential conservative Christian leaders, the Rev. Ted Haggard, said today he bought methamphetamine and received a massage from a self-described male escort. But Haggard denied allegations by the man that he ever used the drug or had sex with him.
Haggard, an outspoken opponent of same-sex marriage, resigned yesterday as president of the National Association of Evangelicals and stepped down as leader of his Colorado mega-church. The association and church are investigating allegations by the male escort, Mike Jones, that he had a three-year relationship with Haggard.
Jones has said in radio and television interviews that Haggard, who lives in Colorado Springs, Colo., paid him for sex about once a month during trips to Denver. "Generally, it was $200," each visit, Jones said.
Haggard, who is married and has five children, told reporters outside his house today that he bought methamphetamine from Jones "for myself but never used it."
"I never kept it very long because it was wrong," Haggard said. "I was tempted. I bought it. But I never used it."
Jones said he did not sell Haggard the drug but helped him buy it from a third party. Haggard used the drug "every time he visited me," Jones said.
Asked if ever had sex with Jones, Haggard said today, speaking from inside his car, "No, I did not." Haggard said he was referred to Jones by the Denver hotel where he was staying.
Jones said he did not know Haggard's true identity -- he knew him only as "Art" -- until he saw the pastor on television about six months ago.
"This is the time [the] Da Vinci Code movie came out," Jones told MSNBC. "I was watching the History Channel. And they were doing a show on the antichrist. And all of a sudden his face shows up as, you know, an expert. And I go . . . 'Oh, my God, that's Art.' "
Yesterday, Jones told Peter Boyles, host of a talk-radio show on KHOW-AM station, that he has recorded voice-mail messages and a letter from Haggard, and that he witnessed the pastor using methamphetamine. But he did not immediately produce the alleged voice-mails or letter.
Jones indicated that he is going public with the accusations at least in part because Colorado has two questions related to same-sex marriage on Tuesday's ballot. One is Amendment 43, which would define marriage as between one man and one woman, and which Haggard has supported. The other is Referendum 1, which would give same-sex couples more legal rights and benefits.
"Being a gay man all my life . . . I felt it was my responsibility to my fellow brothers and sisters, that I had to take a stand, and I cannot sit back anymore and hear [what] to me is an anti-gay message," Jones said.