He Said, They Said: Craig Denies Claims of More Sexual Advances
Sen. Larry Craig Calls Eight New Allegations of Gay Sex 'Completely False'
By CHRIS FRANCESCANI and SCOTT MICHELS
Dec. 3, 2007
Craig's list of accusers is getting longer.
Two men, including a former male escort, have confirmed to ABC News the allegations that they've had sexual encounters with Idaho's embattled Sen. Larry Craig.
Mike Jones, 50, told ABC News that Craig paid him $200 for sex during the winter of 2004-2005.
A second man, a 50-year old former Army captain, also told ABC News that Craig made sexual advances toward him in the men's room of a Republican gathering in Washington state in 1981.
The men were two of eight new people who claimed encounters with Craig in an article published Sunday by the Idaho Statesman newspaper. (click here to listen to audio tapes of interviews with the men).
Craig released a statement today calling the accusations "completely false." He also renewed his intention to serve out the rest of his term. "I will not let this paper's attempt to malign my name stop me from continuing my work to serve the people of Idaho."
Both men who talked to ABC News said they were frustrated with what they saw as the senator's continuing "hypocrisy'' about his sexuality. Craig has a history as a Republican legislator of opposing gay marriage and gay rights.
Jones, the former male escort, also said he was paid to have sex with the Rev.Ted Haggard, who first denied, then admitted to the encounter. In November 2006, Haggard resigned as president of the National Evangelical Association.
Four men have identified themselves publicly to the newspaper and claimed to have had sexual encounters with Craig, and four more men have made claims but refused to allow their names to be used.
Craig pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct after he was accused by an undercover police officer of soliciting gay sex in the men's room of the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport. After a press conference in which he angrily denied that he was a homosexual, he changed his plans to step down from his office. While he has said he won't run for another term, he plans to finish out his current term, which ends in January 2009.
The newspaper reported that it conducted background checks on five of the men, and found nothing to disprove their claims. The newspaper also said it verified Craig's travel records where possible.
The Statesman acknowledged that it had not uncovered any definitive evidence of the claims. ''There are no videos, no love letters, no voice messages,'' wrote veteran Statesman reporter Dan Popkey. "Like last August,'' he wrote, referring to news of Craig's detention at the Minnesota airport, "they are he-said, he-said allegations about a man seeking discreet sex from partners whom he counted on to never tell."
But that discretion was apparently not honored.
'30 Seconds Later, He Was Next to Me at the UrinalGreg Ruth, 50, a photographer, told ABC News he distinctly remembers being showered with attention from then congressman Craig during a Republican Party reception in Couer d'Alene in the fall of 1981, when Ruth was an openly-gay, college Republican from the University of Puget Sound.
"He was paying so much attention to me at the reception, asking me all kinds of questions about UPS, and I loved to talk, so I was just asking him all kinds of questions about what it's like to be a congressman,'' Ruth said Monday. "I remember asking somebody 'where's the bathroom?' and then I said, 'Excuse me, I have to go to the bathroom.'
"So I just went to the urinal, and I don't know, about 30 seconds later he was right there next to me at the urinal. He glanced over the little barricade at my penis.''
Ruth said he remembered being a "little uncomfortable'' at that point, though he was clear that he hadn't been bothered by what he said were "clearly'' sexual advances from the congressman befpre that point.
"I was like, 'Get away from me, dude,'' Ruth told ABC News.
Ruth said that Craig "gave me a smile.
"He didn't touch me or anything like that. I don't think he tapped his foot or anything like that,'' he said, giggling.
"While we were washing our hands, he just said, 'If you ever get to Washington, please give me a call.'' Ruth said he was handed a white slip of paper with a phone number on it. He said he discarded the number long ago.
"I wish I would have kept it, looking back now,'' he mused. "I'm thinking it would be so cool to have."
Ruth said two longtime college buddies were with him at the time of his alleged encounter with Craig but had both asked that he not identify them, as they both have "aspirations'' in Washington state Republican politics.
Ruth also provided ABC News with a cell phone number for his uncle, Gerald King, who confirmed to the Statesman that his nephew had shared the story about Craig with him back in 1981. ABC News was unable to immediately contact King, who told the Statesman he clearly remembered his nephew making the claims at the time.
"I don't care if he's gay,'' Ruth said today of Craig. But, he said, referring to the senator's voting record on gay rights, "he's so anti-gay!''
'Do You Follow Politics, Mike?'
Mike Jones, 50, told ABC News that Craig paid $200 for mutual oral sex with the then-Denver-based escort/massage therapist. He said Craig stands out in his memory.
"He's one of the few of my clients that did not totally take off all of his clothes,'' Jones said. He said Craig removed his coat and dress shirt but left his slacks, T-shirt and shoes on before climbing onto a massage table and requesting that Jones be naked. Jones said the pair engaged in mutual oral sex and masturbation.
Jones said he was adept at "guessing'' the professions of his clients, and said he was sure Craig was a politician because "the first thing he asked me when he walked in was 'Mike, do you follow politics?' and when I said I did, he changed the subject right away!"
Jones acknowledged that he contacted the Idaho newspaper to tell his story three months ago, after Craig reneged on a pledge to resign his office. He said he agreed to speak on the record only if other men were willing to come forward and identify themselves as well.
You don't want to go through what I went through -- alone -- with Haggard,'' Jones said. "Everybody called me a liar,'' he said. "It was a year of hell."
In 2006, Haggard initially denied Jones' allegations that the pair had gay sex, but he eventually resigned his powerful post as head of Colorado's New Life Church and acknowledged he was guilty of "sexually immoral conduct."
Jones' credibility has been questioned ever since he published a book about his experience during the Haggard controversy, "I Had To Say Something: The Art of Ted Haggard's Fall." He denies he was motivated by publicity for the book.
"The book came out in June,'' he told ABC News. "If I really wanted to be a publicity hound, I would have come out [with his story] when the [Craig] was hot. I didn't. The Idaho Statesman had my story for three months. I left it up to them when to publish it, '' he said, adding again that he wanted others to come forward publicly before his tale was published.
Jones said he would not have offered his story had the senator resigned, as he had said he intended to do after the scandal erupted late last summer.
"Hypocrisy, that's the ultimate word,'' Jones said. "If it weren't for that, you would have never heard my story."
Craig has long and loudly complained that the Idaho Statesman has long been on a witch hunt against him.
"It is unfortunate that the Idaho Statesman has chosen to continue to lower itself to the standards of what can best be described as tabloid journalism,'' Craig said in a statement released to ABC News by Communications Director Dan Whiting.
"Like its previous coverage," the statement goes on, "these latest allegations are completely false and have no basis in reality. In fact, the paper itself states that these baseless accusations contain no definitive evidence yet they still decided to print them anyway."