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Ethics Committee releases documents alleging former Rep. David Stringer paid children for sex acts in 1980s

Posted at 2:22 PM, Mar 29, 2019

PHOENIX — Documents gathered as part of the House Ethics Committee's investigation into the conduct of former Prescott Rep. David Stringer show the lawmaker allegedly paid children for sex acts in the 1980s.

Stringer resigned earlier this week rather than comply with the committee's subpoena as it looked into a 1983 sex abuse case and racially insensitive statements he made in 2018.

The release of the documents follows through on a statement by House Speaker Rusty Bowers when he accepted Stringer's resignation, saying the committee would release the documents it had gathered "as soon as possible" but not a formal report.

Included in the documents is the original Baltimore Police Department report of its sex abuse investigation. Detectives say Stringer paid two teens, both younger than 15 years old, to perform sex acts. One of the victims was also living with a mental disability, police said, and Stringer "knew or should have known" of the victim's condition.

Authorities ultimately filed eight sex abuse charges against Stringer, including two counts of 2nd degree sexual offense, a felony which was punishable at the time of the crime with up to 20 years in prison for each count. Stringer entered a guilty plea to a lesser charge, according to the documents. See the full police report embedded below. WARNING: Content may be considered graphic by some readers.

Stringer was sentenced to five years of probation and 1,040 hours of community service in relation to the Baltimore report as well as a provision he seek counseling.

Stringer's resignation has ended the Republican majority in the House until he is replaced. By law, the Yavapai County Board of Supervisors must choose a Republican to replace him. The next supervisor's meeting is April 3, though as of Friday there was no mention of a replacement for Stringer listed on an online copy of its agenda.

Lawmakers spoke out about the release Friday afternoon, calling the allegations "appalling" and "disgusting."

“The behavior described in Mr. Stringer’s arrest report is absolutely appalling and sickening," Speaker of the House Rusty Bowers said. "I confronted Mr. Stringer with the information on Wednesday afternoon and again asked him to resign, which he finally did.”

Governor Doug Ducey said the information released by the committee was "deeply disturbing."

"These latest reports about David Stringer are disgusting and deeply disturbing. I called on him to resign last year, and it couldn’t have happened soon enough," Gov. Ducey said. "However, these revelations are far worse than anything we were aware of before. Someone capable of these acts has no place at this Capitol."

In a statement included with the release of the documents, ethics committee chair T.J. Shope defended the work of his committee.

“The House Ethics Committee conducted a full, fair, and transparent investigation into the complaints against David Stringer," Shope, a Republican whose district includes parts of Gila and Pinal counties, said. "Having to investigate one of our colleagues is an unpleasant task, so I appreciate the seriousness and professionalism of my fellow members of the committee."