The mayor of Stockton, California, arrested on charges stemming from a strip poker game he is accused of playing at a summer camp he hosts for underprivileged children, said on Friday he is innocent of criminal wrongdoing.
At a brief news conference the day after his arrest, Mayor Anthony Ray Silva, 41, denied that he provided anyone with alcohol or did anything else to endanger a child, insisting that everyone present at the incident in question last year was at least 18 years old.
He referred to the gathering as a "party" for camp counselors.
Silva's lawyer, Mark Reichel, told Reuters the mayor had no intention of resigning and would defend himself against the charges in court.
Silva, a Republican who was elected mayor of the northern California city of 300,000 people in 2012, was arrested by FBI agents on Thursday at the summer camp, which Stockton leases from the U.S. Forest Service in the Sierra mountains. He was released on $20,000 bail later in the day.
He was accused of playing a game of strip poker with several young people, including a 16-year-old boy, inside the mayor's camp cabin, and serving alcohol to at least six individuals under the legal drinking age of 21.
Prosecutors said he used his cellphone to make an audio recording of the game without the consent of others. The recording was seized as evidence by investigators and became the basis of a felony eavesdropping charge against Silva.
Speaking to reporters on Friday, Silva said he wanted to make three points.
"No. 1, everyone there was 18 years old. No. 2, I never ever, ever, ever endangered a child. Ever. No. 3, I never provided alcohol to anyone. And I certainly did not secretly record anyone. I am innocent," Silva said.
He declined to take questions.
In addition to felony eavesdropping, Silva is charged with three misdemeanors: contributing to the delinquency of a minor, child endangerment and supplying alcoholic beverages to underage persons. If convicted, he could face up to three years in prison. His arraignment is set for Aug. 18.
Reichel has suggested the case is politically motivated.
An official biography of Silva, the single father of a young boy, says he has served as president of the local Boys & Girls Club for the past six years.
A spokesman for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America in Atlanta said the Stockton club's member charter was revoked in 2013 due to "non-compliance" with the parent organization's operating standards.
(Reporting by Curtis Skinner; Writing and additional reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Editing by Will Dunham)