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Updated Feb 18, 2012 - 2:16 pm

Babeu: 'I'm gay' but allegations are false

In the past 24 hours, Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu has come under fire as allegations flew that he was a homosexual and a relationship with a former boyfriend and volunteer on his campaign turned sour, prompting Babeu to threaten him with deportation.

According to a story from the Phoenix New Times, the former boyfriend, known as Jose, and his attorney told the publication that Babeu threatened the man with deportation after things went sour.

The article in the Phoenix New Times said that Babeu had sent lewd photos of himself along with different forms of sexual communication -- including text messages and emails -- to Jose, who found out Babeu was also communicating with other men by creating a fake account on a gay website after he suspected Babeu of cheating on him.

Jose's attorney, Melissa Weiss-Riner, told the New Times that she was contacted by Babeu's attorney and told that Jose could be deported if he revealed the relationship.

But in a press conference on Saturday, Babeu went before the public to deny all of the allegations in the article except one: his homosexuality.

"I am here to say all of these allegations are false, but I am gay," Babeu said.

The sheriff went on to say that he did have a relationship with Jose, but in no way did he threaten the man with deportation, who he now believes to be a legal citizen.

Babeu said that, though he did share lewd communications with other men, those were part of his private life and should not be under national scrutiny. When later pressed by reporters, Babeu again maintained that those photos and communications were part of his private life and should never have been seen by the public.

"This has no business coming out here," he said.

Numerous members of Babeu's staff and local citizens came out to defend Babeu, with most saying his private life and sexual orientation has no bearing on his professional life.

As a result of the allegations, Babeu stepped down from his role in Mitt Romney's presidential campaign and said he had the full support of Romney's staff.

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