The "traditional marriage" advocate admitted to the relationship after their steamy text-message exchanges went public

By Kathy Ehrich Dowd
May 14, 2015 04:45 PM
Julie Smith/News Tribune/AP

John Diehl, the conservative Missouri House speaker who extolled the sanctity of “traditional marriage” in championing the state’s anti-gay marriage amendment, has resigned after admitting to an inappropriate relationship with a 19-year-old female intern.

The Kansas City Star obtained a copy of text messages the 49-year-old married politician exchanged with the college freshman, which strongly suggest the pair were intimately involved.

In one exchange, Diehl texts, “God I want you right now,” to which she replies, “I wish you could have me right now.”

The paper, which had been investigating the possible relationship for weeks, reports Missouri Southern State University abruptly chose to end its Capitol internship program more than a month early.

Richard Miller, dean of the School of Arts and Sciences at Missouri Southern, told The Star that the school removed its four interns from the program earlier this spring after an unspecified incident.

Diehl, who lives with his wife and three sons in Town and Country, Missouri, initially agreed to speak to the paper before its story ran, but he backed out before any interviews occurred.

However, several hours after the story first ran Wednesday, Diehl admitted to the relationship.

“I take full responsibility for my actions and am truly sorry to those I let down,” he said in a statement. “I apologize for the poor judgment I displayed that put me and those closest to me in this situation. I also regret that the woman has been dragged into this situation. The buck stops here. I ask for forgiveness. I will begin immediately working to restore the trust of those closest to me, and getting back to the important work that is required in the final days of session.”

Diel announced on Thursday afternoon that he was resigning both the speakership and his legislative seat, “for the good of my party, the caucus, and this state.”

Katie Graham, the intern involved in the texting, released a statement Thursday evening identifying herself, St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.

“I want to thank everyone who has reached out to me during this difficult time,” she said. “Your support means a lot. This is extremely difficult for both families, and I hope everyone can begin the healing process. I strongly support the Missouri Capitol internship program, and hope it remains a positive experience for other students in the future.”

Diehl was one of the most influential lawmakers in the state, and earlier this year he co-filed a friend of the court brief supporting the Missouri Marriage Amendment passed in 2004, which states “a marriage shall exist only between a man and a woman.”