Thursday, November 1, 2007 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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GOP lawmaker resigns amid sex scandal

The Associated Press

OLYMPIA — A Republican state legislator who repeatedly voted against gay-rights measures resigned his seat Wednesday amid revelations he had sex with a man he met at an erotic-video store while in Spokane on a GOP retreat.

In a written statement, Rep. Richard Curtis, of La Center, Clark County, said that while he believes he's done a lot of good during his time in the Legislature, "events that have recently come to light have hurt a lot of people."

"I sincerely apologize for any pain my actions may have caused," he wrote. "This has been damaging to my family, and I don't want to subject them to any additional pain that might result from carrying out this matter under the scrutiny that comes with holding public office."

His resignation was delivered to Gov. Christine Gregoire on Wednesday afternoon and takes effect immediately.

On Monday, Curtis had insisted to The Columbian in Vancouver that he was not gay and that sex was not involved in what he said was an extortion attempt by a man last week.

But in police reports, Curtis said he was being extorted by a man he had sex with in a Spokane hotel room. The other man contends Curtis reneged on a promise to pay $1,000 for sex.

House Minority Leader Richard DeBolt, R-Chehalis, issued a written statement and said that as more "troubling" details began to emerge "it has become clear that he can no longer effectively represent the constituents who elected him."

DeBolt said he briefly spoke to Curtis on Monday, at which point Curtis told him he didn't do anything wrong.

"I understood it to be a different story than it turned out to be," DeBolt later told The Associated Press. "I've been reading about these things in the paper like everyone else."

DeBolt, who said there was never any rumor about Curtis' alleged double life, said the caucus needs to move forward.

He said it needs to find a replacement and "regain the trust of the district."

A Republican successor, to be chosen by Republican leaders in Clark and Cowlitz counties, will serve until the 2008 election.

Efforts to reach Curtis and his lawyer, John Wolfe, by phone were unsuccessful.

Curtis, 48, told Spokane police he was the victim of an extortion attempt by Cody Castagna at the Davenport Tower hotel last Friday, police search-warrant documents said. Castagna, 26, of Medical Lake, near Spokane, told police that Curtis had agreed to pay him for sex, then reneged.

Curtis is married and has children, according to his legislative Web site.

Elected to the state House of Representatives in 2004, he voted in 2005 and 2006 against a bill that granted civil-rights protections to gays and lesbians, and in 2007 voted against a bill that created domestic partnerships for same-sex couples. Both measures eventually passed the Democratic-controlled state Legislature and are now state law.

Curtis was among state GOP lawmakers in Spokane from Oct. 24 to last Friday for a retreat to discuss the upcoming legislative session. He went to the Hollywood Erotic Boutique early on Friday and met Castagna, who accompanied him to the hotel, police documents said.

The two arrived at the hotel around 3:30 a.m. and had sex, after which Curtis fell asleep, according to documents released Tuesday.

Curtis alleged Castagna took his wallet and later offered to return it for $1,000. Curtis said he had only $200 and left an envelope with the money at the hotel desk, the documents said.

Police reports said Castagna called Curtis and demanded an additional $800, and threatened to expose Curtis. But Curtis had already contacted police, who listened to the call and then met with Castagna.

There have been no arrests.

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company


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