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Spokane mayor's office e-mails released to public

Spokane mayor's office e-mails released to public

James E. West received a viscious backlash from the public in the form of a digital outcry.

People e-mailed vicious messages to Spokane, Wash., mayor James E. West after a newspaper outed him as a closeted gay man with a fondness for young men, according to a first batch of e-mails released by the mayor's office. More than 2,000 pages of e-mails to and from West's office were released after news organizations made public records requests. Many more pages will be released in coming weeks after they are cleared by the city attorney. A scan of the e-mails released Tuesday showed that most were relatively routine until May 5, when The Spokesman-Review began running a series of articles about West's double life as a conservative Republican politician who often voted against gay rights measures while secretly gay himself. "I hope you burn in hell for the things you have done to gays and lesbians within your community," a writer who identified himself as Jim McCoy wrote to West. Many writers blasted him as a hypocrite. "Ain't karma grand?" one writer asked. "How dare you impugn the brave men and women of the 82nd Airborne with your online pedophilia name," a writer named Marta asked. West used the name "Cobra82nd" in some messages, an apparent reference to his past service as a paratrooper in the unit. "You are the most hated man today on the west side of the Cascades," wrote Michael Reed of Seattle. "Aside from Michael Jackson, perhaps you are the only person that believes you are not a gay pedophile," wrote a person identified as dwatts. West also received messages from people sympathetic to his plight. "We can see what a good job you are doing for the city and will continue to help you succeed in that job," wrote Charlotte Thacker. In its series, the newspaper reported claims by two men that West molested them two decades ago, when they were children and he was a sheriff's deputy. West has vehemently denied those allegations. The newspaper also reported that West more recently visited an Internet gay chat room and tried to entice young men he met there with offers of perks and City Hall jobs. The mayor also is accused of sexually harassing an openly gay man he recommended for appointment to the city's Human Rights Commission. West, who has denied any abuse of office and said he will not resign, is facing a recall effort. Last week The Spokesman-Review obtained another e-mail in which West said he had discovered a new relationship with God in the wake of the scandal. West said he wrote the e-mail after a citizen wrote that he should resign and move to San Francisco, where he would be more accepted. "I appreciate your comments, but like King David in the Bible I will be a better mayor now," West wrote. "My faith in Jesus Christ and the Lord tell me this will be done." West said the scandal has made him seek help to stop visiting gay Internet chat rooms. Stress has caused him to lose 15 pounds, and he hopes to lose 10 more. The furor has also prompted people he hadn't heard from in years to call and encourage him, West said. "I'm reading a Proverb and three Psalms a day and am attending church on a regular basis for the first time in my life," West wrote. "God has forgiven me, and that's all I need." (AP)

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