Sun, Nov 05, 2006 - Page 7 News List

Minister insists he did not take drugs, have sex with man

AP , COLORADO SPRINGS, COLORADO

The Reverend Ted Haggard said he bought methamphetamine and received a massage from a male prostitute. But the influential Christian evangelist insisted he threw the drugs away and never had sex with the man.

Haggard, who as president of the National Association of Evangelicals wielded influence in the US Congress and condemned both gay marriage and homosexuality, resigned on Thursday after a Denver man named Mike Jones claimed that he had many drug-fueled trysts with Haggard.

On Friday, Haggard said that he received a massage from Jones after being referred to him by a Denver hotel, and that he bought meth for himself from the man.

But Haggard said he never had sex with Jones.

And as for the drugs, "I was tempted, but I never used it," the 50-year-old Haggard told reporters from his vehicle while leaving his home with his wife and three of his five children.

Jones, 49, denied selling meth to Haggard.

"Never," he told MSNBC, adding Haggard "met someone else that I had hooked him up with to buy it."

Jones also scoffed at the idea that a hotel would have sent Haggard to him.

He said he had advertised himself as an escort only in gay publications or on gay Web sites.

In addition to resigning his post at the NAE, which claims 30 million members, the minister stepped aside as leader of his 14,000-member New Life Church pending a church investigation.

In Denver, where Jones said his encounters with Haggard took place, police Detective Virginia Quinones said she was checking into whether the alleged drug deal was under investigation.

Jones claims Haggard paid him for sex nearly every month for three years until August.

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