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Convicted Congressman resigns

September 2, 1995

From Correspondent Lisa Price

CHICAGO, Illinois (CNN) -- The political career of a once-rising young politician from Illinois' second district is finished.

"My office was instructed to send a letter to speaker Gingrich and to the Sgt.-of-Arms announcing, telling him, that I'm resigning from Congress effective October 1," Mel Reynolds said Friday on CNN's Larry King Live. "We're going to tie up some loose ends and do some things and then we're going to get on with our lives."

Reynolds' resignation was expected, following his conviction two weeks ago on charges of criminal sexual assault, obstruction of justice, and solicitation of child pornography, all stemming from his relationship with a then 16-year-old girl.

The two-term congressman announced his decision not in Chicago, but on the CNN show because he says Chicago media haven't treated him fairly.

"The Chicago media has been so biased and so unfair, and it's not very representative of the community in Chicago," he said.

Reynolds played the victim on national television, prompting some of his constituents to react strongly. "He's lying like a Persian rug," said one, while another condemned him for lacking the courage to announce his resignation in his home district. (155K AIFF sound)

Beverly Heard, the now 19-year-old woman whose accusations brought the Congressman down, held a news conference of her own after Reynolds appearance on CNN.

"Mel Reynolds has proven tonight what a smooth talker he is," she said, "and has proven how he can play with the truth. Hopefully you can see how a 16-year-old at the time was swayed by this man." (123K AIFF sound)

But Reynolds still maintained his innocence, and called Heard's testimony -- after she spent 10 days in jail for refusing to testify -- a lie.

"One day she puts her hand over her heart on the witness stand and says I don't want him found guilty, he's innocent...and after I'm found guilty she goes on national television and says he got what he deserves," Reynolds said. (160K AIFF sound)

Heard, who has sold her story to a tabloid, said that she told the truth to the jury.

But Mel Reynolds' legal troubles are still not over. He is under federal investigation for allegedly converting campaign funds to personal use. Sam Adam, Reynolds' attorney in the sexual misconduct trial, says Reynolds faces the fight of his life.

"He's got a tough road, but I'm not going to give up on him," said Adam.

Reynolds faces a minimum of four years in prison.



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