msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 5/23/2005 3:34:11 PM ET 2005-05-23T19:34:11

Spokane Mayor James West said Monday he intends to compete his term in office and categorically denied charges of molestation and using his office to arrange dates with young men.

Resurfacing from a personal leave, West on Monday emphatically denied charges that he molested young boys 20 years ago, or that he had offered jobs to men he met on a chat line.

"I apologize to the citizens of Spokane," said Mayor James West. "At times," he conceded, "I’ve exercised poor judgement in my private life."

However, he said: "Allegations of molesting young boys are... totally without merit." He also said he had offered no positions to anyone for personal gain.

"I have not used the Internet inappropriately in City Hall or on city time," West said.

Self-imposed leave
West is the subject of investigations by the city and the FBI over allegations he used his office to solicit dates from young men. Until Monday, he had been on a self-imposed leave since shortly after the allegations first surfaced.

Only a public recall vote can remove him from office. A woman whose recall petition was rejected by the county prosecutor’s office has filed a new petition to meet the requirements of state law.

The Spokesman-Review has published a series of stories that included allegations that West molested two boys in the 1970s. West, a longtime opponent of gay rights, has denied those allegations, but he has acknowledged seeking dates on Gay.com. The newspaper has also alleged he has offered gifts, favors and positions at City Hall to lure young men.

Also on Monday the Spokane Chamber of Commerce called for West to resign.

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