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Rep. Reynolds Freed Without Bail on Rape Charges

<i> From Reuters</i>

Rep. Mel Reynolds (D-Ill.) turned himself in Monday to face statutory rape and other charges, and was freed by a judge without having to post a cash bond.

Reynolds, a first-term Democratic congressman, said he is not guilty of the charges contained in a 20-count indictment that alleges he had an affair with a 16-year-old campaign worker two years ago.

Reynolds was told not to travel outside the United States or have any contact with his accuser, who is now 18. Reynolds will enter his plea at a hearing scheduled for Sept. 12.

“I categorically deny all these charges, and I would hope that all fair-minded Americans would allow me to have a fair trial and allow the system to work in the manner in which it’s supposed to work,” Reynolds, 42, told reporters after his court appearance.

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Besides the rape charge, which carries a minimum four-year prison sentence, the Cook County grand jury also charged Reynolds with soliciting pornography from the young woman and obstructing justice.

According to prosecutors, Reynolds asked the girl to provide him with a nude photograph of a 15-year-old friend, amid suggestions that the three would engage in a sexual threesome.

Reynolds, who is married, has denied having sexual intercourse with the girl, whom he has called a “liar” and a “nut case.”

Reynolds, who is black, has decried the charges, particularly the allegations of pornography, saying they were the product of a publicity-seeking local prosecutor and a racist justice system.

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Reynolds also is reportedly facing separate investigations into his handling of campaign finances in 1992. Marc Kurstin, the manager of a currency exchange here, confirmed published accounts that the Reynolds campaign cashed thousands of dollars worth of checks in small amounts from individual contributors.

Reynolds has heatedly denied those charges also in interviews with local newspapers.


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