Tuesday, October 30, 2007
By JEFFREY MIZE, Columbian Staff Writer
State Rep. Richard Curtis, R-La Center, admitted to having sex with a man he met at an adult video store in Spokane last week, according to a police report released Tuesday afternoon.
The police report offers a damning and far different version of events from the brief account Curtis gave to The Columbian Monday, one that seems likely to threaten Curtis’ political future.
The report is filled with graphic details of an encounter that began at a porn store on a Spokane Valley strip and concluded miles away in Curtis’ room at the city’s poshest hotel.
The police report contains an account of how Curtis allegedly donned women’s clothing, red stockings and a black sequined lingerie top before engaging in a sex act at the store. He continued to wear them throughout the night under his clothing.
Spokane police have finished their investigation and referred the case to the prosecutors for possible filing of extortion charges against Cody M. Castagna.
Castagna is a 26-year-old waiter from the Spokane area who allegedly tried to blackmail Curtis for $1,000 and threatened to reveal his “gay lifestyle” to the lawmaker’s wife if he did not pay.
Curtis, 48, is married and has two daughters. The two-term legislator and retired fire department captain was in Spokane last week for a retreat with other Republican lawmakers in preparation for the 2008 Legislature.
During a brief phone interview with Columbian Editor Lou Brancaccio Monday afternoon, Curtis said he did not have sex with the man and is not gay.
According to the police report, Curtis allegedly offered to pay $1,000 to have unprotected sex with Castagna.
“I feel that, honestly, I’m being wrongly accused and that (Curtis) is using his power to take it off of him and put it on me,” Castagna told reporters during a press conference Tuesday. “He has completely changed what actually happened and turned it around for his favor.”
“He didn’t make any threats against this guy (Curtis),” added Castanga’s attorney, David Partovi. “This is an extremely a low-level situation that’s being blown out of proportion by somebody who is trying to save themselves.”
Curtis did not return calls seeking comment Tuesday. He initially told police that he did not have sex with the man but later recanted, according to the police report. He also told police that he thought he might have been given some type of drug because his memory of the evening was hazy.
After the two men apparently had sex, Castagna allegedly left the hotel room with Curtis’ wallet, the report says. Curtis agreed to give the man $200, which he left at his hotel’s desk, only to be confronted with a demand for an additional $800, the report says.
Spokane Police Detective Tim Madsen wrote in his report that Curtis wanted to keep the whole incident quiet. At one point, Madsen told Curtis that “the toothpaste was already out of the tube.”
“Curtis told me he was just trying to put the cap back on the tube,” Madsen wrote. “I told Curtis that the suspect may victimize other people in the future, and Curtis acknowledged that part of his job was to protect people in the state of Washington. … Curtis said he wished he would have just paid the additional money to the suspect because he didn’t wish the case to be prosecuted. If the incident became public, it could cost him his marriage and career.”
Madsen, in his report, said Castagna told him that Curtis wouldn’t say what he did for a living.
“I work to help people out,” Curtis reportedly said, before adding, “If I told you, I’d have to kill you.”
Castagna said Curtis told him that “his wife knew he liked men when they got married, but she was not into that, so he only did that when he was out of town,” the detective wrote in his report.
The entire incident might have never come to light if Curtis hadn’t contacted Sgt. Roy Rhine of the Washington State Patrol. Rhine, who works out of the patrol’s Southwest Washington office, is a fellow Republican who has run for the state Legislature.
According to a Madsen’s report, Curtis contacted a friend in the Washington State Patrol and wanted the agency to investigate “because the local police would talk and it would get out to the press.” The WSP referred the case back to local officials.
The police report and court filings say that Curtis met Castagna at a Hollywood Erotic Boutique store at about 12:45 a.m. Friday and later rendezvoused at Curtis’ room at the Davenport Tower Hotel at about 3:35 a.m.
As part of their investigation, Spokane police have seized video recordings from the hotel and the sex shop, computerized records of when Curtis’ hotel room door was opened and closed, and hotel records purportedly showing the rental of gay porn movies by someone in Curtis’ room.
Castagna’s Myspace.com Web page indicates that he is gay. A search for Castagna in court records turned up a number of cases in Spokane and King County on a variety of charges. Most cases were in juvenile court and involved charges of assault, theft, burglary and malicious mischief.
As an adult, court records showed that Castagna pleaded guilty in 2001 to a forgery charge and was sentenced to two months in jail and 12 months in community custody.
Partovi said he called the press conference Tuesday due to the severity of the charges being considered against his client.
“Extortion is a violent Class B felony. It starts with a serious jail sentence, and this guy (Castagna) didn’t do anything wrong — at that level, anyway,” Partovi said.
Jeffrey Mize can be reached at 360-759-8006 or firstname.lastname@example.org.