Haggard admits buying drugs as accuser fails lie detector

Deutsche Presse Agentur/RAW STORY
Published: Friday November 3, 2006

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In an interview with MSNBC, influential US evangelist Reverend Ted Haggard has admitted to purchasing illegal drugs from a male prostitute, but denied using them.

Haggard also admitted to leaving voice mail messages for prostitute Michael Jones and receiving a massage from his accuser. He contended that he first met the man through a hotel referral for a masseuse.

However, Jones contended on MSNBC today that even that portion of Haggard's story could not be true. "I only advertise in gay publications and on gay websites," he insisted.

"We got together about once a month for about three years," Jones said. "I only found out who he was about six months ago."

Jones also produced envelopes from Haggard correspondence on air.

A lie detector test Jones on KHOW radio this morning found "deceptions" in his answers.

However, test administrator John Kresnick indicated afterward that he doubted the accuracy of the test, given the stress on Jones is currently under.

Haggard, who news reports say has been consulted by the White House on a weekly basis, resigned Thursday as head of the National Association of Evangelicals, a US umbrella group that claims some 30 million members, after the allegations became public.

He also took a leave of absence as head of his New Life Church in the western state of Colorado, a 14,000-member congregation he founded in a basement.

The scandal comes just days before Colorado voters decide on a measure supported by Haggard that defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

Opposition to gay marriage is a mainstay of the Republican Party's efforts to mobilize its core voters for US Congressional elections on Tuesday, and President George W Bush raised the topic while campaigning this week.

Haggard, a married father of five, has denied claims aired this week by a self-described male escort that the pastor paid him for sex during a three-year affair.

But the Reverend Ross Parsley, who took over as the church's senior pastor, indicated Thursday night that some of the allegations were true.

"There has been some admission of indiscretion, not an admission to all of the material that has been discussed, but there is an admission of some guilt," Parsley told KKTV television.

Parsley said he had no details and that a board of church overseers was investigating the case.

Jones said he went public before the state ballot because he found Haggard's opposition to gay marriage hypocritical.

"I've never had a gay relationship with anybody and I'm steady with my wife," Haggard responded in broadcast remarks. "I'm faithful to my wife."