Friday, November 03, 2006

And the Plot Thickens

Ted Haggard, left, denies allegations by Mike Jones, right, that Haggard paid him for sex.

Evangelical leader says he bought meth, but 'never used it'
POSTED: 2:24 p.m. EST, November 3, 2006

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado (CNN) -- Rev. Ted Haggard, who resigned as one of the nation's top evangelical leaders, admitted Friday he had contacted male prostitute Mike Jones "for a massage" and bought drugs from him.

Haggard said he never had sex with Jones and never used the methamphetamine drug he bought.

He told reporters earlier this week that he did not know Jones, who claims to have had a three-year sex-for-money relationship with him.

Haggard, 50, resigned Thursday as leader of the National Association of Evangelicals -- a group representing more than 45,000 churches and 30 million people -- and he also stepped down temporarily from leadership at New Life Church in Colorado Springs.

He was one of a group of religious leaders who regularly participated in conference calls with White House aides.

Haggard told CNN affiliate KUSA-TV Friday that he received Jones' name as "a referral" from a hotel where he was staying in Denver.

He did not name the hotel. "I did call him," Haggard said. "I called him to buy some meth, but I threw it away."

"I was buying it for me but I never used it. I was tempted, I bought it, but I never used it."

"He told me about it. I went there for a massage."

Earlier, Jones said he would not back down from his allegations despite a polygraph test that showed "deception."

Jones took the test voluntarily, answering questions about his alleged ties with the Haggard, who regularly participates in White House advisory conference calls.

Test administrator John Kresnik said the results "did show deception" but that Jones was physically and mentally exhausted. Kresnik said he would like to take the test again after Jones had slept and eaten, which could provide more trustworthy results. (Watch Haggard's response to whether he knows gay men in Denver -- 2:07 Video)

The Rev. Ross Parsley, who assumed leadership of Haggard's church, said Haggard had made "some admission of indiscretion -- not an admission to all of the material that has been discussed, but there is an admission of some guilt."

Time magazine named Haggard as one 2005's 25 most influential evangelical leaders and has close ties with the White House, participating in a regular conference call with other religious leaders.

White House counselor Dan Bartlett said Friday that the "revelations" are "shocking and disgraceful if they turn out to be true. I think it's important that we do find out exactly what it is right and what is wrong here and get to the bottom of it."

Haggard has put himself on administrative leave as senior pastor of the Colorado Springs, Colorado, with 14,000 members.

Church members who spoke with The Associated Press were stunned. "It's political, right before the elections," said longtime member Brian Boals, according to AP. Another, E.J. Cox, 25, told AP the claims are "ridiculous." "People are always saying stuff about Pastor Ted," she told AP. "You just sort of blow it off. He's just like anyone else in the public eye."

Full Story at

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