U.S. Rep. Donald Lukens was convicted Friday of having sex with a 16-year-old girl whose mother accused the congressman of offering a government job to buy her silence.
Hours after the verdict, one Ohio congressman called for Lukens' resignation, but an aide predicted he would seek re-election next year."I think he should do the gentlemanly thing and resign," said Rep. Chalmers Wylie, the senior Republican among Ohio's congressional delegation. Lukens also is a Republican.
A jury deliberated for 1 1/2 hours before finding Lukens guilty of contributing to the delinquency and unruliness of a minor, stemming from an incident last Nov. 6. The misdemeanor carries a maximum sentence of 180 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Lukens stood still, his hands pressed on the defense table and his mouth slightly open, as Franklin County Domestic Relations Judge Ronald Solove read the verdict.
The 58-year-old divorced congressman from Middletown was indicted Feb. 23, about three weeks after Columbus television station WSYX broadcast a secretly recorded videotape that appeared to show Lukens offering to find the girl's mother, Anna Coffman, a job. She had gone to the station to get help and agreed to the secret taping.
On the tape, the woman asked Lukens why he was "messing around" with her daughter, Rosie. Lukens replied, "Well, first of all, I didn't really know she was a teenager."
Toward the end of the tape, Lukens said, "Let me go back (to Washington) and see what there is part-time and . . . (inaudible). . . . I don't know what, uh, the government has, but I can check and find out."
Coffman testified that the offer was to try to buy her silence, while Lukens called it an extortion attempt.
A misdemeanor conviction does not automatically trigger an Ethics Committee investigation or bar a member from sitting in Congress. The committee does have the option of investigating such cases and recommending action such as censure.
Solove delayed sentencing pending the completion of a pre-sentence investigation. Lukens faces a maximum sentence of 180 days in jail and a fine of $1,000.