Haggard Admits Buying Meth From Male Prostitute

New Life Church Pastor Talks Outside His Home

The Rev. Ted Haggard admitted Friday that he bought methamphetamine and had a massage from a male prostitute but said he never used the meth or had sex with the gay man.

The admission came as the self-professed prostitute flunked a lie detector test about having sex with Haggard.

Haggard stopped his pickup truck to talk to reporters camped outside his Colorado Springs home Friday and confirmed allegations that he bought meth from the Denver man.

"I called him to buy some meth, but I threw it away. I was buying it for me but I never used it," he told reporters. "I was tempted. I bought it. But I never used it."

Haggard, 50, said he never had sex with Mike Jones, a 49-year-old Denver man who raised the allegations this week. Haggard said he received a massage from Jones after being referred to him by a Denver hotel.

Jones took a polygraph test Friday, and his answers to questions about whether he had sexual contact with Haggard "indicated deception," said John Kresnick, who administered the test.

"We're so grateful that he failed the polygraph test this morning," Haggard said, sitting next to his wife.

Haggard, who was leaving his home with his wife and three of his five children, said he bought the meth because he was curious. He was heading to a meeting of outside church leaders who wanted to discuss the scandal with him.

Jones, 49, on Friday denied selling meth to Haggard. He said that Haggard bought the meth from "someone else that I had hooked him up with to buy it."

He also scoffed at the idea that a hotel would have sent Haggard to him.

"No concierge in Denver would have referred me," he said. He said he had advertised himself as an escort only in gay publications or on gay Web sites.

Jones said he would be willing to take another polygraph test and noted that Haggard has changed his position since Wednesday.

"I find it interesting that he is admitting some of it," Jones said on the radio show.

The polygraph examiner said the questions Jones failed were: Did you lie when you said you had a sexual relationship with Ted Haggard? Did you lie when you said you had a sexual affair with Ted Haggard over a period of three years?

Jones said he doesn't know why he failed the test, but said it was perhaps because he hasn't had much sleep the controversy exploded.

Church Leaders Respond

On Thursday, Haggard resigned as president of the 30 million-member National Association of Evangelicals Association, of which he had been president since 2003.

The NAE's executive committee issued a statement Friday praising Haggard's service but saying "it is especially serious when a pastor and prominent Christian leader deliberately violates God's standards of conduct."

The statement did not mention the allegations against Haggard but noted he had admitted to "some indiscretions."

"Due to the seriousness of Rev. Haggard's misconduct while in the leadership roles he held, we anticipate that an extended period of recovery will be appropriate," the statement said.

Haggard initially denied the allegations, which included claims that he used methamphetamines during the sex, but a church spokesman later said Haggard admitted to some of the allegations.

Haggard -- an outspoken opponent of gay marriage and homosexuality -- also stepped down as senior pastor at his 14,000-member New Life Church pending an investigation by a church panel, saying he could "not continue to minister under the cloud created by the accusations."

"I am voluntarily stepping aside from leadership so that the overseer process can be allowed to proceed with integrity," Haggard said in a written statement. "I hope to be able to discuss this matter in more detail at a later date. In the interim, I will seek both spiritual advice and guidance."

On Wednesday he denied the allegations of gay sex: "I've never had a gay relationship with anybody, and I'm steady with my wife. I'm faithful to my wife."

However, the acting senior pastor at New Life, Ross Parsley, said in an e-mail sent to parishioners late Thursday that Haggard admitted to some of the accusations.

"It is important for you to know that he confessed to the overseers that some of the accusations against him are true," Parsley said in the e-mail.

"(Haggard) has willingly and humbly submitted to the authority of the board of overseers, and will remain on administrative leave during the course of the investigation," the e-mail continued. Read the e-mail.

Members of Haggard's megachurch were stunned.

"It's political, right before the elections," said Brian Boals, a New Life member for 17 years.

Church member E.J. Cox, 25, called the claims "ridiculous."

"People are always saying stuff about Pastor Ted," she said. "You just sort of blow it off. He's just like anyone else in the public eye."

"People will always fail us, but our faith in God helps us get through this period because he never will," a church employee told 7News on Friday after learning of Haggard's admission.

Accuser Has Political Motive

The allegations surfaced as voters in Colorado and seven other states get ready to decide Tuesday on amendments banning gay marriage. Besides the proposed ban on the Colorado ballot, a separate measure would establish the legality of domestic partnerships providing same-sex couples with many of the rights of married couples.

Jones said he decided to go public with his claims because of the political fight over the amendments.

"I just want people to step back and take a look and say, 'Look, we're all sinners, we all have faults, but if two people want to get married, just let them, and let them have a happy life,"' said Jones, who added that he isn't working for any political group.

Jones, who said he is gay, said he was also upset when he discovered Haggard and the New Life Church had publicly opposed same-sex marriage.

"It made me angry that here's someone preaching about gay marriage and going behind the scenes having gay sex," he said.

Jones, whose allegations were first aired on KHOW-AM radio in Denver, claimed Haggard paid him to have sex nearly every month over three years. He said he advertised himself as an escort on the Internet and was contacted by a man who called himself Art, who snorted methamphetamine before their sexual encounters to heighten his experience.

Jones told The Gazette that the encounters typically lasted less than an hour.

"It was just encounters," Jones told the newspaper. "There was no emotion involved."

He told Peter Boyles on Friday that he used a condom when the two had sex.

Jones said he later saw the man he had sex with on The History Channel and identified him as Haggard. He said he last had sex with Haggard in August and did not warn him before making his allegations public this week.

Jones provided ABC News with .

"Hi Mike, this is Art," one call began. "Hey, I was just calling to see if we could get any more. Either $100 or $200 supply."

A second message, that Jones said was left a few hours later, began: "Hi Mike, this is Art, I am here in Denver and sorry that I missed you. But as I said, if you want to go ahead and get the stuff, then that would be great. And I'll get it sometime next week or the week after or whenever."

Jones said "Art" was referring to methamphetamine, but the drug wasn't mentioned in the voice mails. Haggard's middle name is Arthur.

Haggard An Influential Leader

Haggard, 50, a 1978 graduate of Oral Roberts University, was appointed president of the evangelicals' association three years ago and Time Magazine named him one of the country’s 25 most influential evangelicals. Harper’s Magazine called New Life "the most powerful megachurch in America."

After Massachusetts legalized gay marriage in 2004, Haggard and others began organizing state-by-state opposition. Last year, Haggard and officials from the nearby Christian ministry Focus on the Family announced plans to push Colorado's gay marriage ban for the 2006 ballot.

At the time, Haggard said he believes marriage is a union between a man and woman rooted in centuries of tradition, and that research shows it's the best family unit for children.

"Homosexual activity, like adulterous relationships, is clearly condemned in the Scriptures," the evangelicals' association says on its Web site. The Bible says homosexuality is a sin that "brings grave consequences in this life and excludes one from the Kingdom of God."

Two years ago, when conservative Christians were pushing Bush to make a gay marriage ban a top priority, Haggard told the Dallas Morning News many association members believed "the federal marriage amendment should be at the center of this election."

He also boasted to the Wall Street Journal that he could call the White House and get an answer from Bush within 24 hours.

Haggard has participated in conservative Christian leaders' conference calls with White House staffers and lobbied members of Congress last year on U.S. Supreme Court appointees after Sandra Day O'Connor announced her retirement.

Haggard's resignation from the NAE seems unlikely to do lasting damage to the organization, which is an umbrella group for a diverse and independent-minded membership. At his own church, Haggard's decision to step aside -- if it became permanent -- would have a more profound effect.

"One would hope and pray that this matter would be resolved expeditiously and quickly and he can be restored back to being the pastor of the church and the leader of the NAE," said Michael Cromartie, vice president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, a conservative Washington think tank..

Carolyn Haggard, spokeswoman for the New Life Church and the pastor's niece, said a four-member church panel will investigate the allegations.

The board is comprised of the Rev. Larry Stockstill in Baker, La., the Rev. Mark Cowart of Colorado Springs, the Rev. Tim Ralph of Larkspur and the Rev. Michael Ware of Westminster. The board has the authority of to discipline Haggard, including removing him from ministry work.

"This is really routine when any sort of situation like this arises, so we're prepared," Carolyn Haggard said. "The church is going to continue to serve and be welcoming to our community. That's a priority."

The elders met late Thursday to discuss the allegations.

"The character of the church and of the people is revealed when they go through times of testing. We'll see how the church responds," elder James Groesbeck said before the meeting.

"It's an incredible time of testing and character building. We just need prayer for Pastor Ted and for his family," he said.

James Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family in Colorado Springs, blamed the media for the furor:

"It is unconscionable that the legitimate news media would report a rumor like this based on nothing but one man's accusation. Ted Haggard is a friend of mine, and it appears someone is trying to damage his reputation as a way of influencing the outcome of Tuesday's election -- especially the vote on Colorado's marriage-protection amendment -- which Ted strongly supports. He has shown a great deal of grace under these unfortunate circumstances, quickly turning this matter over to his church for an independent investigation. That is a testament to the character I have seen him exhibit over and over again through the years."

On Friday, Dobson said he was "heartsick over the allegations."

"The possibility that an illicit relationship has occurred is alarming to us and to millions of others," Dobson said.

The Denver Police Department said Friday that they are monitoring the story and will be following up on alleged criminal activity.

"The Denver Police Department is watching this situation unfold and plan on reaching out to the involved parties for information on crimes that may have been committed in Denver. We ask that anyone who has information about crimes committed in the city of Denver to call 720-913-7867 (STOP)," police said.

District attorney's spokeswoman Lynn Kimbrough said a public admission isn't enough by itself to bring a case, but "if we can prove criminal conduct, we will" file charges.

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