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Probe in Detroit mayor scandal to end Monday

March 23, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
A prosecutor poised to reveal the results of her probe into whether Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and his former top aide committed perjury or other crimes insists her own re-election bid did not affect the investigation. On Monday, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy will put an end to two months of speculation when she announces what she found in her independent review of a text-messaging sex scandal that has consumed the city.

"We're not the ones that created this scenario," Worthy said Friday. "We are the ones who simply want to do the right thing and do a thorough job."

She wouldn't give any hint of what, if any, charges would be filed against the mayor and ex-Chief of Staff Christine Beatty.

Despite the wide interest in the case and its potential effect on Kilpatrick's career, Worthy doesn't consider this the toughest assignment she's had.

As an assistant prosecutor, Worthy, who is black, prosecuted two white police officers in the 1992 beating death of a black motorist. She won second-degree murder convictions against the officers.

"I still say that is probably the largest because of the significance and the timing of that case," she said. "It gave people a newfound belief in the criminal justice system."

Worthy says she and her staff have pored over more than 40,000 pages of documents since January, when the Detroit Free Press published excerpts of sexually explicit text messages sent to Beatty's city-issued pager in 2002 and 2003.

The messages contradict statements Kilpatrick and Beatty gave under oath during a whistleblowers' trial last summer when each denied a romantic relationship.

"There is nothing happy about this situation," Worthy said. "Something like this is just not good for anyone. It's tragic for the city, whether we charge or not. What happens in this city, county and region is very important to me.

"At the same time, it's still not going to stop me from doing what I think is the right thing to do."

Worthy started as a contract worker in the prosecutor's office before being hired in 1986. She then had a nine-year career as a judge before being appointed the county's first black and first female prosecutor in January 2004 when then-Prosecutor Mike Duggan resigned. She ran unopposed for the position later that year.

This is a re-election year, and Worthy says she understands that a decision to prosecute or not prosecute Kilpatrick will open her to criticism.

"The fact that I happen to have a political campaign this year is completely different and has nothing to do with this particular investigation," she said. "If this investigation had come along last year or the year before, or would come along next year after the election is over, we would handle it the same way.

"Political considerations have no place in the investigation, at all. When you start playing politics, and politics enters your decision-making, you become ineffective."

 

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