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Arizona House releases additional disturbing details from Stringer probe

(Facebook Photo/David Stringer)

PHOENIX – The Arizona House Ethics Committee on Wednesday released additional disturbing information from the investigation that led to former Rep. David Stringer’s resignation last week.

Included was a witness statement alleging Stringer said he liked “being a daddy figure for the little girls when they sit on my lap” while he taught grade schoolers.

He also allegedly said educating Mexicans was a waste of money.

Additionally, Stringer, who was accused of child sex crimes in 1983, can be heard on an audio file saying “I don’t like to demonize” child sex trafficking.

It was all part of 181 pages and eight audio files gathered on the committee’s behalf by Phoenix private investigator J. Swain Granieri.

The ethics probe was launched in January after the Phoenix New Times reported that Stringer was charged with sex crimes in Baltimore in 1983.

Facing a deadline to turn over unspecified documents, the Prescott Republican submitted his resignation March 27.

House Speaker Rusty Bowers said Stringer’s resignation ended the ethics probe and public documents gathered over the course of the investigation would soon be released.

Two days later, the ethics committee released 426 pages of documents, including a 1983 Baltimore Police Department report that said Stringer was arrested for allegedly paying boys younger than 15, one of whom had a mental disability, to perform sex acts multiple times.

On Saturday, Stringer issued a long statement on Facebook defending himself, saying the “salacious allegations of sexual improprieties … had no basis in fact.”

Before the New Times report, Stringer resisted calls to step down from GOP leaders, including from Gov. Doug Ducey, after video circulated in June 2018 showing him saying “there aren’t enough white kids to go around” when discussing integration in schools.

Despite a backlash, he was re-elected in November.

Wednesday’s document release included notes about an interview with Rosemary Agneessens, a Prescott educator and activist who said she had multiple interactions with Stringer in recent years.

Agneessens told investigator Mike Torres, a colleague of Granieri, she was shocked when Stringer made the comment about girls in a third or fourth grade English Language Learning class sitting in his lap during his internship at ASU Preparatory Academy.

She also said she heard Stringer say schooling Mexicans and poor students beyond eight grade was a waste of funding.

Multiple other people told interviewers they’d heard Stringer expressed views about minorities negatively impacting schools.

Mardi Read, an administrator with the Prescott Unified School District, described a 2017 meeting with Stringer in which she said funding and supporting education would help break the cycle of poverty.

She said Stringer’s response was: “Why would you want to do that?”

The audio of Stringer discussing sex trafficking came from a Facebook livestream made by Prescott activist Merissa Hamilton during a political forum that the lawmaker invited her to in May 2018.

When Hamilton suggested to Stringer that he question a speaker about the issue, he replied, “I don’t like to, I don’t like to demonize it. I think that, I think that’s a demagogue on child, on child sex trafficking.”

He also said he didn’t think child sex trafficking was a significant issue but believed there were “a lot of 15-year-old prostitutes.”

Stringer responded Wednesday on Facebook to Hamilton’s account, saying, among other things, “I can’t account for the statements she has attributed to me. But for the record, I have never minimized the problem of sex trafficking or specifically child sex trafficking across our southern border.”

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