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Utah lawmaker quits over hot-tub revelation

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By Associated Press
Sunday, March 14, 2010

SALT LAKE CITY -- Utah's House majority leader resigned from the legislature Saturday, two days after his confession about sitting nude in a hot tub with a teenage girl 25 years ago stunned this conservative state.

Republican Rep. Kevin Garn, in an e-mail message to House Speaker David Clark, apologized for becoming a distraction.

"After discussing this matter with my family, I have decided that it is in the best interests of them, my colleagues and the people of Utah," he wrote.

Garn, 55, acknowledged the indiscretion with the legal minor late Thursday immediately after the Legislature adjourned for the session.

"Although we did not have any sexual contact, it was still clearly inappropriate -- and it was my fault," he told colleagues from the House floor Thursday night.

Garn said he paid the woman, Cheryl Maher, $150,000 to keep quiet about the episode when he unsuccessfully ran for Congress in 2002.

But Maher, now 40, began calling local news media last week to tell them about being naked with Garn when she was 15. It is unclear whether Garn was 29 or 30 at the time of the incident. He is more than 14 years older than Maher, who lives in Derry, N.H.

"I'm sure the resignation was really difficult for him, but it needed to happen," Maher said. "This is a secret that devastated my life and my family's life." Maher declined to comment on specifics of the hot-tub episode. She said she thinks Garn still has a bright future outside politics.

"My intention was not to harm or hurt anyone, it's just to speak the truth," she said. "It's freedom for me to get it out in the open, and I think somewhere down the line he will think it's freedom for him, too."


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