Fallen evangelical pastor Ted Haggard apologized Monday for his "inappropriate relationship" with a young male church volunteer, but said it did not involve physical contact.
The newly disclosed relationship added a chapter to Haggard's dramatic fall, which began in November 2006 when a Denver male prostitute alleged a cash-for-sex relationship with Haggard.
Haggard confessed to undisclosed "sexual immorality" and resigned as president of the National Association of Evangelicals and pastor of New Life Church, which he founded in his Colorado Springs basement in the 1980s.
In Monday's statement, Haggard said he met with the man two years ago and asked him "forgiveness for our inappropriate relationship." Haggard's wife and a representative of New Life Church attended the meeting, Haggard said.
"Although there was no physical contact, I have regretted my irresponsibile (sic) behavior," he said.
Haggard reiterated that he wanted to ask for the forgiveness of the man and the people of the church.
The young man, now 25, declined comment to The Associated Press. He was scheduled to speak later to a local television station.
Haggard's successor at New Life Church, Brady Boyd, disclosed details of the relationship on Friday. He said then that evidence pointed to a long-running "inappropriate, consensual sexual relationship" between Haggard and the man, who was in his early 20s.
On Monday, Boyd clarified that "sexual" didn't necessarily mean physical contact. The church didn't describe what made the relationship sexual but has emphasized that any sexual relations outside of marriage — whether heterosexual or homosexual — are wrong.
"Our hearts go out to everyone hurt by the inappropriate actions that took place under former Pastor Ted Haggard," Boyd said in a statement. "After news of Mr. Haggard's actions broke in late 2006, church leaders publicly announced that other allegations of inappropriate sexual behavior had been made. We had not at that time and still have not to this day received any reports of physical sexual contact between Mr. Haggard and any one other than a male escort who made the initial allegations against Mr. Haggard in 2006."
Haggard, 52, is married and has five children. In an AP interview this month, he described his sexuality as complex, and something that can't be put into "stereotypical boxes."
Both Haggard and the church knew the episode could be revealed. The church struck a legal settlement with the man in 2007 that paid him for college tuition and counseling — as long as he did not speak publicly about the relationship, Boyd has said. He called it "compassionate assistance — certainly not hush money."
He said the church would not take legal action for the man for breaking the agreement.
Apology to congregation
Boyd said the church went public about the relationship only because it was contacted by KRDO, the station scheduled to air the interview Monday night. The station has reported on its Web site that the man says the relationship with Haggard was not consensual.
Boyd also suggested that the man would not have come forward if the HBO documentary were not airing, and said he warned Haggard of the potential consequences during a meeting in December.
On Sunday, Boyd told his congregation, "I'm sorry that this wound has been reopened for many of you."
Alexandra Pelosi, director of the HBO documentary, said Monday she was sorry if that was the case.
"But this is what happens when you don't handle things properly at the time," said Pelosi, a daughter of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. "If the church had been 100 percent full disclosure at the time, maybe this wouldn't be a problem now."
She added that her film was not about Haggard's indiscretions themselves. "My film is about what happened to a man and his family after he fell from grace."