A Louisiana parish president admits that he sent a then-17-year-old boy sexually charged text messages and gave him a "graduation present" pair of racy designer underwear, but insists that he was only "playing along" with the teen and that no sexual contact took place.
The New Orleans Advocate reported Friday that Republican Mike Yenni characterized his relationship with the underage student at his alma mater Jesuit High School as a "lapse in judgment" and said that calls for his resignation are politically motivated.
“I can’t explain why I did it,” the married, 40-year-old Yenni told New Orleans' Fox 8 News. He maintained that many of the details revealed in a 2015 blog post by the boy about the affair were false and that he never had sexual contact with the teen beyond kissing, nor was he grooming the boy for a sexual relationship.
Fox 8's Lee Zurik asked Yenni what his intent was in exchanging erotic texts with a teen.
"I can't...I really can't answer it," said Yenni. "I mean, it was just...it was a stupid action. It was a stupid action to even get into this form of text messaging. It was something...something that I can't explain why I did it."
Yenni met the boy at a Jesuit High School function. They began to exchange sexually charged messages. Yenni visited the boy at his job at a local mall and presented him with a pair of underwear. They kissed, but Yenni insists that was their only contact, which was not illegal because the age of consent for boys in Louisiana is 17.
A year after the liaison, the boy published an account of the affair, which was picked up by what Yenni calls a "tabloid." He declined to address the accusations against him line by line, saying, "The story was written for a monetary purpose, to win a prize. There are a ton of fictional elements in that story."
"I apologized for what I did wrong," he told Zurik. "I text-messaged."
He said that his critics, like attorney Robert Evans -- who launched a recall effort against Yenni that is gathering momentum -- are exploiting his lapse in judgment as a political cudgel.
"Like, in other words, what he's trying to say in his pleadings, ‘He is a pedophile, he is an admitted homosexual,'" Yenni said. "And that is not true. I've never admitted that. It doesn't define me either."
"What do you mean it doesn't define you," Zurik asked.
"I'm not gay," Yenni replied.
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