Until last week, two-term Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and his chief of staff, Christine Beatty, together ran the largest city in Michigan. Friends since high school, the two were young, attractive, and in love. What made this a problem was that both were married to other people: Kilpatrick to first lady Carlita Kilpatrick, and Beatty to one of the mayor's boyhood pals.
In 2002, a Detroit policeman on the mayor's guard duty named Harold Nelthrope came under investigation by the police internal affairs department and blew the whistle on the couple. Soon thereafter in spring 2003, both Nelthrope and the lead investigator, Deputy Police Chief Gary Brown, lost their jobs. They sued the city for retaliatory firing. Kilpatrick and Beatty testified under oath that Brown had retired voluntarily. Brown's attorney questioned the mayor and his chief of staff about their personal relationship, but they swore none existed. In September, the jury sided with Nelthrope and Brown in a $6.5 million verdict. Kilpatrick filed an appeal, but after Nelthrope and Brown subpoenaed text messages sent between Kilpatrick and Beatty, Kilpatrick changed his mind and quietly settled, even agreeing to give the cops $2 million over the jury award. Inquiring minds wondered: What was in those text messages, anyway?
On Jan. 23, the Detroit Free Press obtained and released excerpts from 14,000 text messages sent between Kilpatrick and Beatty during 2002 and 2003. (Click here for photo images.) Inexplicably, these lovebirds discussed not only Brown's illegal ouster ("we are going through this mess because of a decision that we made to fire Gary Brown," below), but also intimate details of their affair ("You made me feel so damn good that night," Page 2). Romantic banter ("I'm madly in love with you." "In case you haven't noticed, I am madly in love with you, too!") alternated with updates on school budgets and crime reduction.
On Jan. 28, Christine Beatty, now divorced, resigned her position in a one-page letter to the mayor. Kilpatrick apologized publicly both to his wife and to the citizens of Detroit. Carlita Kilpatrick said she forgave her husband. The city council has thus far declined to investigate the matter further, but the Wayne County prosecutor is considering whether to bring perjury charges.
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