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State lawmaker resigns over Gay sex scandal, may still face solicitation charges
State lawmaker resigns over Gay sex scandal, may still face solicitation charges
State lawmaker resigns over Gay sex scandal, may still face solicitation charges by Liz Meyer - SGN Staff Writer

A Washington state legislator resigned after increasingly damning details of his sexual encounter in Spokane with a man who allegedly tried to blackmail him were made public.

On October 31, Rep. Curtis, R-La Center, released a statement that read: "Today I submitted my letter of resignation to Gov. Gregoire effective immediately. While I believe we've done some good and helped a lot of people during the time I served in the Legislature, events that have recently come to light have hurt a lot of people. I sincerely apologize for any pain my actions may have caused. This has been damaging to my family, and I don't want to subject them to any additional pain that might result from carrying out this matter under the scrutiny that comes with holding public office."

Republican leaders will choose Curtis' successor, who will serve until the 2008 elections.

Curtis, who was elected to the state House in 2004, voted against Gay rights legislation. He voted in 2005 and 2006 against a bill that granted civil rights protections to Gays and Lesbians, and in 2007 voted against a bill that created domestic partnerships for same-sex couples.

"Yet again, we are witnessing the harmful and shameful effects of a life lived in the closet," Patrick Sammon, the President of the Log Cabin Republicans, a Gay GOP group, told the Seattle Gay News. "Americans deserve honest public servants. We also deserve leaders who aren't hypocrites-people whose votes during the day match their behavior at night. Openly Gay and Lesbian Americans have served, and continue to serve, with truth and dignity at all levels of government. These kinds of incidents don't represent the hundreds of thousands of wonderful, law-abiding Gay and Lesbian families in America."

House Minority Leader Richard DeBolt, R-Chehalis, also released a statement after Curtis' resignation: "I am very disappointed by the news reports of the conduct by Rep. Curtis last week in Spokane," said DeBolt. "After discussing this matter with House Republican leaders, he has submitted his resignation, which we feel is best for everyone involved. The troubling details continue to emerge, however, it has become clear that he can no longer effectively represent the constituents who elected him. We pray that Richard and his family have the strength and support they need to meet the personal challenges they face."

The "troubling details" just seem to keep coming for Curtis as a part of an ongoing Spokane Police Department extortion investigation. Curtis' version of what happened on the night of Oct. 26 differs greatly from that of the man police say he "engaged in mutual sexual activities with," 26-year-old Cody Castagna of Medicine Lake. Castagna, a waiter at his mother's restaurant in Spokane, has also done amateur porn.

In police reports released Monday, Curtis alleges Castagna was extorting him after the two had sex in Curtis' Spokane hotel room. Curtis was in town for a meeting of GOP leaders. Castagna claims Curtis offered him $1,000 to engage in unprotected sex, and later reneged.

As news of the consequent extortion investigation hit, Curtis told his hometown newspaper, The Columbian, "I am not Gay. I have not had sex with a guy."

However, Detective Mark Burbridge, who wrote one of the police reports, swore in his affidavit--based on interviews with both of the men--that the men "engaged in mutual sexual activities." Curtis later claimed Castagna may have drugged him, and his memory of the night was hazy.

According to police reports, Curtis entered the Hollywood Erotic Boutique, an erotic video store in Spokane, early on the morning of Oct. 26. There, a witness saw Curtis wearing "long red women's stockings and a black sequined lingerie top," and receiving oral sex from a man with a cane. The report states a video clerk at the store had seen Curtis there at least three times, and that Curtis had confided in her that he was Gay on previous visits. The clerk also referred to Curtis as "the cross dresser."

Around 1 a.m., say the reports, Curtis met Castagna, who was at the store watching pornographic films. The men talked outside of the video store, and Castagna told Curtis he'd lost $40 playing cards earlier that night, and was down to his last $10. Curtis told investigators he offered pay Castagna $100 to "help him out for gas," but repeatedly maintained he had never agreed to pay Castagna for sex.

Castagna reportedly met Curtis later that night at Curtis' room at the Davenport Towers Hotel around 3:34 a.m. and engaged ?in sex.

The report states that Curtis allegedly told Castagna he liked being submissive because "in his job he has to make a lot of important decisions." When Castagna asked what Curtis did, Curtis replied, "If I told you, I'd have to kill you."

Then, Castagna alleges Curtis told him he wanted to have anal sex without a condom. Castagna voiced concerns that would be unsafe. Curtis then asked what it would take to convince Castagna, and eventually offered to pay Castagna $1,000.

When Curtis fell asleep, Castagna left with his wallet. Castagna told the police he took Curtis' wallet as collateral to hold on to until he received the $1,000 payment for sex. Curtis, however, alleged that Castagna stole it. Castagna called Curtis the next morning around 7 a.m., saying he knew Curtis was married and a legislator, and demanding the $1,000 he says Curtis promised him.

Curtis had $200 left in the room, which he left at the front desk of the Davenport for Castagna. A friend of Castagna's picked up the money.

After Curtis paid Castagna the $200, he contacted an acquaintance at the Washington State Patrol, who then notified Spokane's Chief of Police, said Public Information Officer Jennifer DeRuwe of the Spokane Police Department. That man has since been identified as Sgt. Roy Rhine, a fellow Republican who has run for the state Legislature.

Curtis repeatedly expressed to police a desire to keep the investigation under wraps. At one point during his initial interview with Curtis, Det. Tim Madsen told him, "the toothpaste was already out of the tube." Curtis replied, "I'm just trying to put the cap back on the tube." Curtis then said he wished he would have just paid the additional money to the suspect because he didn't wish the case to be prosecuted. Curtis added that if the incident became public, "it could cost him his marriage and career," states the report.

Then, while Curtis was still speaking with Det. Madsen, Castagna called to demand the rest of the $1,000. After a drop was made, Spokane detectives detained the man who picked up the $800 Curtis dropped. He eventually led them to Castagna.

Castagna, who pleaded guilty in 2001 to a forgery charge, claims Curtis tricked him.

"I feel that, honestly, I'm being wrongly accused and that (Curtis) is using his power to take it off of him and put it on me," Castagna told reporters during a press conference Tuesday. "He has completely changed what actually happened and turned it around for his favor."

Jada McLaughlin, who police interviewed after seeing her name in Castagna's phone log, questioned Castagna's credibility. "Cody is a scammer," said McLaughlin. "Cody is into blackmail and has blackmailed men in the past after having had sex with them." Additionally, The Columbian reports court records show that Castagna pleaded guilty in 2001 to a forgery charge and was sentenced to two months in jail and 12 months in community custody.

Castanga's attorney, David Partovi, maintains that his client did not extort money. "He didn't make any threats against this guy (Curtis)," said Partovi during his client's Oct. 30 press conference. "This is an extremely a low-level situation that's being blown out of proportion by somebody who is trying to save themselves."

Additionally, on Oct. 31, Castagna posted a bulletin on his MySpace page entitled "THE TRUTH ABOUT SEN. CURTIS" [sic]. The bulletin, which has not been edited by SGN, reads:

"Well i will first start off with how much i feel for Britney Spears cause if i had to dodge reporters and camera crews every day like i have been for the past few days I WOULD GO INSANE..

"But the hole reason i wanted to post this is cause YOU CANT BELIVE A DAMB THING THE MEDIA SAYS !!!! IF YA DIDNT HEAR IT FROM MY MOUTH THEN IT IS A LIE, AND ANY ONE WHO KNOWS ME KNOWS I HAVE NOTHING TO HIDE..

"I HAVE NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH !!

"I HAVE BEEN ADVISED BY MY LAWYER TO NOT TALK ABOUT ANY DETAILS BUT I WILL TELL YOU THIS

"RICHARD CURTIS AND THE MEDIA HAVE USED THIER POWER AND TURNED THIS WHOLE THING AROUND IN HOPES TO SAVE HIS ASS BUT IT WON'T BE LONG TILL AMERICA SEE'S THAT..

"CURTIS VOTED AGAINST GAY RIGHTS -- BUT CAUGHT IN GAY ACTS?

"CURTIS VOTED AGAINST GAMBLING-- BUT IS A MEMBER TO ALMOST EVERY CASINO IN WASHINGTON.

"CURTIS ALSO TOLD NEWS PAPERS HE DID'NT HAVE SEX WITH A MAN AND LAST TIME I CHECKED I WAS A MAN FOR SURE..

YEAH HE HAS POWER & LIE'S BUT I HAVE THE TRUTH !!!!!!

"(p.s.) since my in box went from 1-2 pages to now 97 pages in (1 day) please dont think im ignoring you or dont appreciate your support cause i do..

"Later Cody"

No one has been charged in the case and, on Wednesday, Spokane County Deputy Prosecutor Larry Steinmetz said a decision about possible criminal charges in the case was weeks away.

The Curtis-Castagna case is Spokane's second major sex scandal in as many years. In 2005, then-Mayor Jim West was recalled after allegations of molestation and misuse of office.
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