Sen. Craig Vows to Stay in Office, Despite Ruling

Court Documents in Craig Case

Idaho Sen. Larry Craig vows to remain in office for the duration of his term, despite a Minnesota judge's ruling Thursday that he would not be able to withdraw his guilty plea in an airport sex sting.

"I will continue to serve Idaho in the United States Senate," Craig said in a written statement released after the ruling. "...As I continued to work for Idaho over the past three weeks here in the Senate, I have seen that it is possible for me to work here effectively."

Craig's statement also indicated that he would continue his efforts to clear his name in the Senate Ethics Comittee, "something that is not possible if I am not serving in the Senate."

Thursday's ruling was a major setback to the Idaho senator's efforts to clear his name.

"Because the defendant's plea was accurate, voluntary and intelligent, and because the conviction is supported by the evidence ... the Defendant's motion to withdraw his guilty plea is denied," Hennepin County Judge Charles Porter wrote.

Craig can appeal Porter's ruling, but it was not immediately clear if he would.

When the charges first surfaced, Craig denied their substance but also said he would resign by Sept. 30. Later, he decided to try to reopen his legal case, and said he would stay at least until he found out whether he could withdraw his plea.

Craig, who was arrested June 11 by an airport police officer, has said his actions in the airport men's room were misconstrued. The officer said Craig had looked into his toilet stall, and tapped his foot and moved his hand under the divider in a way that suggested he was looking for a sexual encounter.

Craig denied that in an interview with the officer after his arrest. But he pleaded guilty on Aug. 8. He later said he "panicked" in entering his plea, believing that it would keep the matter quiet. The Idaho Statesman had been holding back an article on rumors about his sexuality, and Craig said in court papers that he feared the arrest would trigger the story.

Porter said that was not a good reason to withdraw the plea. Any pressure Craig was under "was entirely perceived by the defendant and was not a result of any action by the police, the prosecutor, or the court," he said.

From NPR reports and The Associated Press

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