Tempe Councilman Mark Mitchell a child abuser and rapist???
Sure I don't like government tyrant Mark Mitchell or his dad Harry Mitchell, but still it's a waste tax dollars to investigate a 30 year old crime that might have occurred between two minors.
Mark Mitchell cries foul over 1983 abuse allegation
Abuse claim from childhood levied as Tempe vote nears
by Dennis Wagner, and Dianna M. Náñez - May. 9, 2012 10:13 PM
The Republic| azcentral.com
Less than a week before election day, Tempe mayoral candidate Mark Mitchell is battling allegations that he sexually abused a neighbor girl nearly three decades ago when he was a 13- or 14-year-old baby-sitter.
Mitchell says the charges are untrue and part of a political smear. The allegations, which have been the subject of anonymous e-mails and rumors for weeks, became public Wednesday after they were mentioned by Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery at a news conference.
Montgomery, who has endorsed Mitchell's opponent, Michael Monti, recused himself from the investigation and turned it over to Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk.
The accusation, made to police in February, comes from a woman who is now about 39 years old and whose name is redacted from public records so that it was not immediately possible to check her credibility.
Police referred their findings to prosecutors with recommended felony charges but said they made no arrest due to the youth of those involved and the amount of time that has elapsed.
To date, no complaint has been filed, and experts said the prospects for a conviction may be remote given the purported victim's murky account, the lack of other evidence and myriad legal issues.
What is clear, however, is that the accusation spiraled into political intrigue early on, with Monti's campaign backers pressing for media coverage even before police completed their inquiry.
At the same time, police reports indicate that Mitchell, through his attorney, repeatedly delayed when detectives asked to question him as Tuesday's election drew near. However, he submitted to a police interview Monday and spoke with The Republic on Wednesday.
"Let me be perfectly clear: I've done nothing wrong," he told the newspaper. "Not now and not 30 years ago, even when I was a child."
Mitchell is a 12-year City Council member and son of former U.S. Rep. Harry Mitchell, D-Tempe, who previously served as mayor.
Mark Mitchell said that he has no criminal record or history of allegations and that he believes the inquiry is politically motivated.
"I don't know who is behind this, but what else am I to think?" he said. "I'm deeply hurt and disappointed. More than that, I'm disgusted at having to deny something so awful that never happened.
"I'm 100 percent innocent. No sexual contact of any kind occurred, ever."
According to heavily redacted police reports, the woman said Mitchell fondled her on several occasions in 1983 while they were watching TV with her younger brother. She described other sexual contact that allegedly occurred in a shed outside Mitchell's home, where she said he kept a drum set.
The accuser told police that she believed Mitchell was about 16 and she was 10. Mitchell, 42, would have been no older than 14 in 1983.
The woman said she asked her mother how someone becomes pregnant at the time and told her about the sexual incidents. Authorities were not contacted. The mother recently gave contradictory statements to police but said she recalled speaking with Mitchell's parents and putting an end to the baby-sitting.
Mitchell's legal counsel on Wednesday sent a letter to the Yavapai County Attorney's Office saying the accusations are false and salacious.
Attorneys Lee Stein and Jean-Jacques Cabou contend that the criminal accusation is a "transparent attempt on the part of Mr. Mitchell's political enemies to deprive the voters of Tempe of a fair, honest mayoral election." It disputes numerous facts and allegations as presented in the police report.
The case was investigated by Phoenix detectives because the woman made her initial allegation Feb. 18 to officers in that city while she was being interviewed in connection with an unrelated investigation.
Investigators with the department's Conspiracy Unit put Mitchell under surveillance on April 5 after persuading the woman to confront him while wearing a wire and to subsequently call him for a secretly recorded conversation. According to police reports, Mitchell said during the phone conversation that "they were young and experimenting and that he never meant to hurt her and he apologized."
The report says when a detective first called and asked for an interview, Mark Mitchell asked the name of his accuser and denied knowing her. Political opponents have asserted that Mitchell's answer was a lie. Mitchell said that the alleged victim had married and taken on a new name that he did not initially recognize. When police provided further information during the interview, he acknowledged knowing her.
The police report recommends five felonies - three counts of sexual conduct with a minor; one of sexual abuse; and one of child molestation.
Mitchell said he was questioned by a television news reporter about the case before Phoenix detectives contacted him for an interview. During the probe, Mitchell's attorney complained to police that someone anonymously leaked information about the case in an e-mail to Tempe City Council members.
Monti issued a statement declaring that neither he nor anyone associated with his campaign had any part in the accusations against his opponent.
"The situation is truly regrettable," he said. "We must place our trust in law enforcement. They have recommended charges against Mitchell. He should be given the rights every citizen ..."
Jason Rose, a spokesman for the Monti campaign, denied any role and said he learned of the accusations from the anonymous e-mail.
"We had nothing to do with it, period," Rose said of the criminal allegation. "No one knows why this woman stepped forward when she did. It has nothing to do with our campaign."
Rose complained that media shied from the story for weeks. "The only suspect timing here is, it's not about who we've talked to, why this took so long to come out. There's been 15,000 people who've already voted (via mail-in ballots) in Tempe."
Doug Cole, a veteran Arizona Republican political consultant not affiliated with either candidate in the Tempe race, said most voters will see through the eleventh-hour campaign tactics. He also noted that many Tempe voters will have already mailed in their ballots by now.
"These types of last-minute drive-by shootings are what turn so many off about the political process," Cole said. "From what I've seen Mark Mitchell has handled it very well. Unfortunately, it's part of the rough-and-tumble of modern-day politics. Both families that are running here are big Tempe names - Mitchell and Monti - and it's a shame that this race has degenerated in such a fashion."
Republic reporter Michael Kiefer contributed to this article.
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