As part of the effort to rehabilitate the reputation and save the political career of Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, his children Michael Craig and Shae Howell spoke to ABC News' "Good Morning America" this week to testify that their father isn't gay and was not in fact guilty of the lewd conduct for which he was arrested.
Michael Craig said his father was simply "a victim of circumstance" who was "in the wrong place at the wrong time."
But the criminal records of Michael Craig and his sister, whom Sen. Craig adopted after marrying their mother, Suzanne, in 1983, not only call into question their credibility as character witnesses but may even further undermine Craig's portrayal of himself as a defender of family values.
At least two women have sought restraining orders against Michael Craig, who was once charged with statutory rape, though the charge was dismissed. He did not return a call for comment. And at the time of Howell's appearance on "Good Morning America" there was a warrant out for her arrest resulting from her allegedly breaking into her estranged husband's home and destroying property.
In a statement issued to ABC News, Sen. Craig and his wife said that "Raising children in their teens and as they become adults is never an easy task. Few people have gone through life without a few bumps. Our kids have worked to get through their tough times, and we have supported them as families do. We have watched them grow to become loving and caring parents of our beautiful grandchildren. We love our children very much and stand by them even when they struggle."
Restraining Orders and Statutory Rape
By far the charges against Michael Craig, 38, seem the more serious. One of the restraining orders against him was issued by a former girlfriend after he was arrested in 1993 for committing an act of battery against her that broke her nose, according to court records. He pleaded guilty to the charge in May 1994 and was ordered to have no contact with her.
The other order was sought after his wife, Stephanie Craig, who charged him with an act of battery in November 2003, according to court records. In January, he was ordered to have no contact with his wife. He pleaded guilty in March 2004 and was ordered to undergo counseling. Stephanie Craig appears to have temporarily resided at St. Mark's Crisis Action Center in Boise, an intervention services center for families in crisis.
When contacted Friday, Stephanie Craig told ABC News, "I'm not interested in talking about this" and hung up the phone.
Michael Craig was also charged with the felony statutory rape of a 16-year-old girl in 1988, when he was 19. That charge was eventually dismissed.
Members of the girl's family told ABC News that they continue to support Sen. Craig politically, though they refrained from commenting on Michael Craig, who did not return a call for comment.
'Malicious Entry to Property'
As for Craig's daughter, Shae Howell, in April, a warrant was issued for her arrest after she failed to show up for a court date stemming from November 17, 2006, when she was charged with "unlawful entry" and "malicious entry to property."
Boise Police Department spokeswoman Lynn Hightower told ABC News that police officers were called shortly after midnight June 19, 2006, to the home that Howell shared with her husband. Howell was "going into a house without permission and damaging property," said Hightower. The complaint said that "Shae Howell did enter into a certain dwelling house … without the consent of David G. Howell the owner of such property" and that "Shae Howell did maliciously injure certain personal property not her own to-wit: photographs, the property of David G. Howell."
Howell told ABC news that the charges stemmed from a "very difficult divorce" with David Howell and "has nothing to do with my dad's job." After ABC News and other outlets reported Wednesday about the outstanding warrant for her arrest, Howell took care of the charges.
'I Wouldn't Do it in Boise, Idaho! Jiminy!'
In June, Sen. Craig was arrested for lewd conduct in an undercover sting operation targeting men who have anonymous gay sex in a Minneapolis airport men's room. In August, he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of disorderly conduct but has since said he regrets the decision to not fight the charges and is reconsidering his recent announcement that he intends to resign from the Senate.
Craig has said that his legal problems stem from a false charge. "I did nothing wrong at the Minneapolis airport," he said last month. "In June, I overreacted and made a poor decision. I chose to plead guilty to a lesser charge in hopes of making it go away."
"I am not gay. I never have been gay," he insisted.
Rumors about Sen. Craig's alleged secret gay life have swirled ever since the 1982 House page scandal, when then-Rep. Craig told the media — though his name had not surfaced in the scandal — that he was not gay.
"Persons who are unmarried as I am, by choice or by circumstance, have always been the subject of innuendos, gossip and false accusations. I think this is despicable," he said at the time, surprising reporters who had not heard his name in connection with the page scandal.
This year, the Idaho Statesman interviewed men who claimed Craig made sexual advances toward them, including a 40-year old man with ties to the GOP who claimed to have engaged in oral sex with Craig at a men's room at a Washington, D.C., train station men's room, and another man who claims in 1994 Craig "cruised" him for sex at a store in Boise.
Craig told the newspaper then that "I'm not gay, and I don't cruise, and I don't hit on men." He added that he doesn't "go around anywhere hitting on men, and by God, if I did, I wouldn't do it in Boise, Idaho! Jiminy!"
After the Minnesota charges came to light last month, Craig's son took to the TV airwaves to defend his dad, telling ABC News that his father pleaded guilty to make the crime go away. "How we grew up at home is the same way he has been in his professional career. He, he's a problem solver."
ABC News' Art Swift in Boise, Lisa Chinn in Washington, D.C., and Marcus Baram and Art Blazer in New York contributed to this report.