Mr. Kilpatrick and his wife, Carlita Kilpatrick, delivered an on-air speech Wednesday night.
DETROIT - Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick pleaded for forgiveness from his family and his constituents yesterday in an emotional televised speech. It was his first public response to recently revealed racy text messages that contradict his sworn testimony that he did not have a physical relationship with a key aide.
"I truly apologize to you," Mr. Kilpatrick said. His wife, Carlita, sat by his side, holding his hand, at their family church.
"I am the mayor. I made the mistake," he told Detroit residents. "I am accountable."
He did not publicly specify, however, what he was apologizing for, saying legal matters prevented him from doing so.
A prosecutor is investigating whether the mayor and chief of staff Christine Beatty lied under oath during a whistle-blower's lawsuit in the summer in which both denied having a relationship. A conviction of lying under oath can bring up to 15 years' imprisonment.
Mr. Kilpatrick vowed to remain mayor in the carefully or-chestrated speech, which aired live in prime time on local television and radio stations. "Make no mistake about it; since 2002, I have been in charge of the city. There have been ups and downs. There have been hills and mountains and valleys. But through it all, I remain in charge of the city," he said at Greater Emmanuel Institutional Church of God in Christ.
The only audience was the operator of the sole video camera used. The mayor did not mention the text messages or Ms. Beatty.
He closed by saying, "God bless you, Detroit. I love you. I will see you at work tomorrow."
The speech ended a week of seclusion for Mr. Kilpatrick, 37, after the Detroit Free Press reported on the text messages. His only public response had been a written statement a week ago.
Mrs. Kilpatrick also spoke, describing the pain her husband had caused but urging the city to remain committed to him.
"I am angry, hurt, and disappointed," she said. "But no question, I love my husband."
The text messages call into question testimony Mr. Kilpatrick and Ms. Beatty gave in a lawsuit filed by two police officers who alleged they were fired for investigating claims that the mayor used his security unit to cover up extramarital affairs.
In court, Mr. Kilpatrick and Ms. Beatty denied having a physical relationship, but the text messages reveal that they carried on a flirty, sometimes sexually explicit dialogue about where to meet.
Ms. Beatty submitted a letter of resignation Monday, effective Feb. 8.
At a pro-Kilpatrick rally outside his office a few hours before his speech, supporters held signs reading "Leave Kwame Alone," "Protect the mayor - protect your city" and "Mayor Kilpatrick = Progress."
After another crowd gathered a short time later to call for the mayor's resignation, shouts of "resign" were drowned out by retorts of "We love Kwame."