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Arizona lawmaker under fire after report of 1983 sex charges

David Stringer
Posted at 7:54 PM, Jan 25, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-25 21:54:08-05

PHOENIX — An Arizona lawmaker who received national attention last year for his remarks on race and immigration was under fire once again Friday after a newspaper reported that he was charged with sex offenses in 1983.

The Republican House speaker suggested Rep. David Stringer should consider quitting, while Gov. Doug Ducey told reporters he stands by his earlier call for the Prescott Republican to quit. Republican Rep. Kelly Townsend said Stringer should quit, adding that she plans to file an ethics complaint against him on Monday.

The Phoenix New Times reported the charges Friday based on a copy of the case history the newspaper obtained from the Circuit Court for Baltimore City in Maryland. Stringer’s record was expunged, and a court official told the New Times the records should not have been released. The official, Maryland Judiciary spokeswoman Nadine Maeser, did not respond to an email from The Associated Press.

Stringer did not respond to several requests for comment from the AP.

House Speaker Rusty Bowers said he was “surprised and extremely disturbed” to read the New Times report, adding that “charges of this nature cast a shadow on the entire Legislature and his ability to be an effective legislator.” He stopped short of demanding that Stringer step aside.

“I hope that Rep. Stringer will reflect on the impacts of these reports as he considers whether to continue in his office,” Bowers said in a statement.

The Arizona Democratic Party spokesman, Les Braswell, said the Legislature should immediately remove Stringer from his seat.

“The state cannot tolerate a man like that serving in elected office. He does not represent Arizona or its values,” Braswell said.

Details of the charges against Stringer are unclear. The case summary published by New Times, which blacked out information about victims and witnesses, lists unspecified sex charges but does not detail the allegations. One entry says “charge is child pornography.”

The records indicate he was sentenced to probation, ordered to perform 208 hours of community service and “to seek admission to Dr. Berlin’s program at Hopkins.” Dr. Frederick Berlin founded the Sexual Disorders Clinic at Johns Hopkins University medical school.

If Stringer resigns or is removed from office, Republicans would temporarily lose their majority in the 60-seat House, which is currently split 31-29 between Republicans and Democrats. Thirty-one votes are required to pass legislation.

The Yavapai County Board of Supervisors would choose a replacement from three candidates submitted by the Republican precinct committee members in the county. His replacement must be a Republican under state law.

The New Times report was published a day after Stringer issued a surprise apology on the House floor for his remarks last year that led to the loss of his chairmanship of a key committee.

Ducey and the state GOP chairman called for fellow Republican Stringer to resign last summer when video circulated on social media of him saying “there aren’t enough white kids to go around” when discussing integration in schools. He refused and was re-elected in November.

A few weeks later, the New Times reported that Stringer told Arizona State University students that African Americans “don’t blend in.” He also said Somali immigrants don’t look like “every other kid” as previous European immigrants do.