Say It Ain't So, Phil

Facebook image of 18-year-old Kameryn Gibson

I'm totally stunned by this story in this morning's Star detailing how State Rep. Phil Hinkle (R-Indianapolis) and Wayne Township educator met a young man on Craigslist to whom he offered $80 to spend some time with him at the J.W. Marriott last Saturday night and actually met up later with the 18-year-old at the hotel. Alex Campbell has this jaw-dropping story:

Emails shared with The Indianapolis Star suggest that state Rep. Phillip Hinkle -- responding to a local posting on Craigslist -- offered a young man $80 plus tip to spend time with him Saturday night at the JW Marriott hotel.
The emails, sent from Hinkle's publicly listed personal address, ask the young man for "a couple hours of your time tonight" and offer him cash up front, with a tip of up to $50 or $60 "for a really good time."
The email exchange is in response to the Craigslist posting in which the young man -- who lists his age as 20 in the ad but says he is 18 years old -- says, "I need a sugga daddy."
The young man told The Star that they met, but that he tried to leave after the man told him he was a state lawmaker. He said the lawmaker at first told him he could not leave, grabbed him in the rear, exposed himself to the young man and then later gave him an iPad, BlackBerry cellphone and $100 cash to keep quiet.
When contacted by The Star about the emails, Hinkle, a Republican who represents portions of Pike and Wayne townships, did not contest the emails but said, "I am aware of a shakedown taking place."
Asked what he meant by shakedown, Hinkle would not elaborate. He directed further questions to his attorney.
Hinkle's lawyer, defense attorney Peter Nugent, said he was unable to say what Hinkle meant by a "shakedown." Nugent said he is investigating the situation, but he does not know what happened Saturday. Nugent said he has not filed a police report and does not yet know whether he will.

Asked whether he had seen the emails and the Craigslist posting, Nugent said, "Oh, I've seen some emails, but not all of them." He would not be more specific.

"I'm trying to get to the bottom of everything involved," Nugent said.

On Wednesday, Nugent faxed this "official statement":

"Representative Hinkle is aware of the inquiries by The Indianapolis Star and we are investigating the matter at this time. We request that everyone respect the privacy of the family at this time."

Hinkle, 64, who lists his occupation as coordinator for community partnerships for Wayne Township Schools on the Indiana House website, has been a state lawmaker since 2000. He is best known in the Statehouse for his interest in local government issues. On the website, he also notes he was a co-author of the bill that created the "In God We Trust" license plate.

The young man, Kameryn Gibson, told The Star he posted the Craigslist ad in the "Casual Encounters" section under m4m, which is shorthand for men for men. He used his adopted sister's email address.
The story gets much worse. It says Hinkle's family became involved after the boy's sister came and picked him up at the hotel and even offered the sister $10,000 as hush money. This is bad:
Gibson said he had posted on Craigslist before but had never met up with someone. Knowing he was in a bedroom with a politician, Gibson said, he got cold feet.
"Yeah, I don't want to do this," Gibson said he told Hinkle.
He said Hinkle's response was: "You need to do this, because I came and got you, and I'm not taking you back until we do what we need to do."
Gibson excused himself to the bathroom. There, he called his sister Megan. She said she would come get him immediately.
When Gibson came out, he said Hinkle told him he couldn't leave. Gibson called his sister again. This time, Megan told him to put her on speakerphone.
"I started cussing him," Megan told The Star. She also threatened to call the police and the local media.
"He said, 'I'll give you whatever,'" Megan said.
But when they hung up, Kameryn Gibson said Hinkle grabbed him by the right arm, just below the shoulder. Gibson said it was then that Hinkle grabbed him in the rear, dropped his towel and sat down on the bed -- naked.
When Megan Gibson arrived to pick up her brother, she again threatened to call police and the local media.
Kameryn and Megan Gibson said Hinkle then offered his iPad, a BlackBerry and $100 in cash.
Kameryn Gibson walked past his sister and out of the room as she continued to yell at Hinkle.
"She was still going off," Kameryn Gibson said, "and I was like, 'OK, I think that's enough, I think he gets it.' "
Megan Gibson said that on the drive back, she began receiving a series of calls on the BlackBerry, including one from a woman who said she was Hinkle's wife.
"I was like, 'Your husband is gay,' " Megan said. "And then she was like, 'You have the wrong person.' "
Megan read her the email address:
The line went silent.
"Just for a couple seconds," Megan Gibson said, "and the first thing she said was, 'Please don't call the police.' "
Phone messages left with Hinkle's wife late Thursday were not returned.
Megan Gibson said she then began receiving a series of calls from various family members -- including from Hinkle's son-in-law, demanding that his wife see proof of the emails.
Megan Gibson dropped off her brother then returned to the JW Marriott, where she showed Hinkle's daughter the emails.
Megan Gibson said on her way back, she received another call from Hinkle's wife.
"The first thing she said, she was like, 'OK, we will give you $10,000 not to say anything,' " said Megan Gibson, who said she was now becoming scared. "I was like, 'OK,' and I hung up the phone."
She soon got another call -- from the Marriott hotel. It was Hinkle. Megan Gibson told Hinkle that she had informed his wife and family that he was gay.
Megan Gibson said Hinkle's response was: "You just ruined me."
No, Phil, you just ruined yourself. I guess this explains the e-mail I received from Phil the other day noting a change in his e-mail address. I expect Hinkle's resignation will be announced before the end of the day. This is another reason why doctors should stop prescribing Viagra to their aging male patients.

UPDATE: WISH-TV's Jim Shella is reporting this comment from House Speaker Brian Bosma on Hinkle's problem:

“If the circumstances are as reported, it is an extremely sad and disappointing situation for all of us, especially the families involved. Our next step will be to try to discuss this matter with Representative Hinkle and chart a course from there.”

The Bilerico Project, an LGBT national blog founded by former Indianapolis resident Bil Browning, put out a call earlier this year for assistance in outing closeted Indiana lawmakers who backed a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriages in Indiana. Browning claims in a post this morning that at least three men contacted him after he put out his call claiming they had met Hinkle for sex in hotel rooms before the Star  broke this morning's story:

One of the most frequently e-mailed subjects was Republican representative Phil Hinkle. While none of my correspondents could provide any actual proof, three different men told me they had met Rep Hinkle for sex in an Indianapolis hotel room. All three were able to describe Rep Hinkle's penis in detail and all three descriptions matched, but it just didnt' seem like enough for me to print the allegations.
A google search indicates the story has gone viral on the Internet. Not looking good.

Gov. Daniels is describing the situation as a "family tragedy." He's not yet calling for Hinkle's resignation. “It’s not for me to say. It’s for him and his constituents. It’s just a personal family tragedy,” Daniels said, adding that he was “sad about it.”

UPDATE II: Hinkle is getting a nudge from Marion Co. GOP Chairman Kyle Walker to resign. Walker just released this statement:

"If the allegations are true, this is a very sad situation. I strongly recommend that Representative Hinkle resign his position so that he can focus on his family and not have this situation detract from that or the work that needs to continue in his legislative district."
And another nudge from Indiana GOP Chairman Eric Holcomb who says Hinkle needs to "do the right thing":

Asked if that meant the six-term lawmaker should resign, Holcomb said that he “would word it differently.”
“There’s only a few people who know the facts at this point,” Holcomb said. “I would hope that those that do, and have influence over them, would do the right thing, and I think they’ll know what that is.”
Someone who may want Hinkle's seat is more direct:

While Holcomb did not use the word “resign,” Andy Harris, the Wayne Township trustee and former Wayne Township GOP chairman, said that’s what Hinkle needs to do.
Harris attends St. Christopher Catholic Church with Hinkle, and considers him a friend. Hinkle’s district includes parts of Wayne Township.
The people he has spoken to in Wayne Township, Harris said, are “just shocked and floored.”
“It is not something they expected from Phil Hinkle,” he said. “But if found to be true, he definitely needs to step down... There’s no way I could support somebody running for an elected office doing that to their spouse and their family.”

WTHR's Kevin Rader scored an interview with the 18-year-old Gibson about his encounter with Hinkle last Saturday at the J.W. Marriott. He tells Rader he had a case of buyer's remorse after Hinkle turned out to be a much older man than he had anticipated hooking up with for sex. He says he decided to go public with his story after he learned Hinkle was a prominent state legislator who held anti-gay views. I'll link to the story when it appears on WTHR's website.