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Published: Wednesday, 4/30/2008

Judge orders release of Kilpatrick-Beatty messages

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick waves to well-wishers while talking to the media during a news conference after a speaking engagement at Samaritan Center on Tuesday in Detroit. Kilpatrick made a brief statement regarding the release of a document containing text messages showing a romantic relationship between himself and his former chief of staff Christine Beatty. Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick waves to well-wishers while talking to the media during a news conference after a speaking engagement at Samaritan Center on Tuesday in Detroit. Kilpatrick made a brief statement regarding the release of a document containing text messages showing a romantic relationship between himself and his former chief of staff Christine Beatty.
JERRY S. MENDOZA / AP Enlarge

DETROIT - Text messages from the pager of his former top aide appear to show the evolution of flirty and sexually explicit exchanges involving Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick to professions of love and eventually promises of marriage.

But for the married mayor and the now-divorced Christine Beatty, the outcome of their secret relationship referred to in the excerpts has been embarrassment, felony charges, and possible prison time for both.

Ms. Beatty, the mayor's former chief of staff, also has been out of a job for more than two months after she resigned following the publication in January of some text message excerpts.

In an 18-page document released yesterday, many of the messages - which were all sent from or received on Ms. Beatty's pager - refer to being in love.

According to a Sept. 23, 2002, text message from Ms. Beatty to the mayor, she wrote: "I love you so much man! Thank you for showing what it's like to be head over heels in love."

The document was ordered released yesterday by Judge Robert Colombo, Jr., of Wayne County Circuit Court.

It was recovered from the computer of Michael Stefani, an attorney who represented three police officers in whistle-blowers' lawsuits that were settled last year for $8.4 million.

The document also reveals discussions about a potential reorganization of the police department's internal affairs unit without the knowledge of then-Police Chief Jerry Oliver.

Several top police officials, including Police Chief Ella Bully-Cummings, who was an assistant chief at the time, were aware of the plot that involved the firing of Gary Brown, the chief of internal affairs, according to the excerpts released over the objections of attorneys representing Mr. Kilpatrick, Ms. Beatty, and the city.

Mr. Brown was one of the three officers who filed the whistle-blowers' suits against Mr. Kilpatrick and the city.

A prosecutor's report issued last month said Mr. Kilpatrick and Ms. Beatty attempted to keep Mr. Brown's firing a secret.

In a motion, Mr. Stefani said the text messages between Mr. Kilpatrick and Ms. Beatty "clearly demonstrate that Brown was fired."

In a text message Ms. Beatty sent to Mr. Kilpatrick on May 15, 2003, she said: "I'm sorry that we are going through this mess because of a decision that we made to fire Gary Brown. I will make sure that the next decision is much more thought out. Not regretting what was done at all but thinking about how we can do things smarter."

It was during the whistle-blowers' trial of Mr. Brown's and another officer's suit that Mr. Kilpatrick and Ms. Beatty denied having a romantic relationship in 2002 and 2003.

"Mayor Kilpatrick, during 2002 and 2003, were you romantically involved with Christine Beatty?" Mr. Stefani asked.

Mr. Kilpatrick's response: "No."

Ms. Beatty said "no" and rolled her eyes when asked if she and the mayor were "either romantically or intimately involved" during the period covered by the case.

But the text messages, excerpts of which were first published by the Detroit Free Press, told a different story.

In March, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy charged Mr. Kilpatrick and Ms. Beatty, both 37, with perjury, misconduct, and obstruction of justice stemming from that testimony.

They face a June 9 preliminary examination.

The text messages are at the heart of the settlement of the whistle-blowers' lawsuits.

Mr. Kilpatrick said publicly last September that the city would appeal a jury's verdict in favor of the suit filed by Mr. Brown and former officer Harold Nelthrope.

But after Mr. Stefani gave one of Mr. Kilpatrick's lawyers a motion for attorney's fees that contained excerpts of the text messages, the suit was settled. The motion was never filed in court, and until the Free Press story, the text messages weren't publicly revealed.

Judge Colombo said yesterday he agreed to release the document because he believes it directly led to the whistle-blowers' settlement.

"It is the very reason why the Brown case was settled," Judge Colombo said. "That made it a public document."



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