Authorities charged West Virginia Sen. Mike Maroney, R-Marshall, with soliciting prostitution Tuesday, claiming possession of an exchange of explicit texts between him and a woman charged with prostitution.
“I don’t care about a mess,” Maroney, chairman of the Senate Health and Human Resources Committee, allegedly texted Cortnie Clark, who also is facing prostitution-related charges.
His remark referred to Clark’s residence, which police described as littered with used condoms, used and uncapped hypodermic needles, trash everywhere and “an unimaginable amount of human feces and human urine throughout.”
A criminal complaint against Maroney, 51, filed in Marshall County Magistrate Court spells out the conversations. Clark, in what police say is the last text between them, on June 19, sent Maroney a photo of herself, along with a message.
“Come f--k me :),” she said, according to the complaint.
Police say that, on May 14, Clark and Maroney first texted back and forth about arranging a rendezvous. They allegedly discussed rates and the length of time for Clark’s services.
Clark, police say, refused to meet before Maroney sent a picture of himself. Maroney did so, which police said is the same person on Maroney’s drivers license. In July, they seized Maroney’s phone from his car at the Pittsburgh airport while he was out of town.
On June 5, Maroney asked to stop by for a “massage,” which he elaborated to be a “quick in and out,” the complaint states.
The complaint states that police also have obtained provider data linking the phone number to Maroney.
According to Glen Dale Police Chief Edward Vogler, Maroney turned himself in around 9 a.m. Wednesday. He pleaded not guilty to three misdemeanor charges and was released on bail.
Vogler said that, while police have Maroney’s phone, they have not been able to access his text messages within it. However, the chief said, he feels comfortable prosecuting Maroney with the information listed in the complaint. Maroney faces three misdemeanor charges: conspiracy, house of ill fame and assignation, and prostitution.
Vogler said some people who have pleaded guilty to similar crimes involving Clark have been sentenced to a fine and a one-year suspended sentence.
Paul Harris, Maroney’s lawyer, did not respond to a text message Wednesday morning.
When the Gazette-Mail reported that police had seized Maroney’s phone, Harris said he sent a letter to Marshall County Prosecuting Attorney Rhonda Wade. Although Maroney had not yet been charged, he said he wrote the letter in response to “rumors” and to deny Maroney ever met Clark. Harris also provided the Gazette-Mail with a video of a woman he identified as Clark, claiming to not know Maroney.
At the time, Maroney would not comment.
“There’s nothing to this story,” he said. “I can’t comment on it, and I’m not going to comment on it, but there’s nothing to this story.”
Clark’s attorney said Wednesday evening he has filed a motion to dismiss the 16 prostitution charges filed against Clark because West Virginia’s prostitution statute is too vague to be enforced. He indicated he’s willing to appeal the matter to the state Supreme Court. He declined to comment whether there was any intimate relationship between Clark and Maroney.
Senate President Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson, called the allegations against Maroney deeply disturbing.
“We obviously take these allegations concerning Senator Maroney very seriously, as they are troubling and deeply disturbing,” Carmichael said in a statement. “All members of the Senate are held to high standards of conduct. We have full confidence in our legal system and will be issuing further statements as the legal proceedings continue.”
A spokesman for the West Virginia Republican Party would not comment.
Democratic Party Chairwoman Belinda Biafore issued a statement Wednesday, calling on Maroney to resign and for Carmichael or Gov. Jim Justice to see to Maroney’s ouster.
“Republican Leadership has long tried to flaunt their faith and family values while questioning ours, but when one of their own is in this kind of trouble they have nothing to say,” she said.