Diehl dodges reporters' questions on sexting allegations

House Speaker John Diehl leaves the Capitol late Wednesday night after refusing to answer reporters' questions about texts he allegedly exhanged with an intern.

House Speaker John Diehl refused to say anything beyond a brief statement on Wednesday's reports that he had exchanged sexually-charged texts with a Capitol intern.

Diehl stayed in his office all afternoon and late into the evening before finally agreeing to emerge a little before 11 p.m. to speak to the media. His comments were brief. He said he had apologized to his caucus and those closest to him.

"It was very regrettable, it was a stupid thing to do, and I'm sorry," he said.

Diehl initially offered to answer questions but then refused to explain the nature of his relationship with the intern and quickly left the Capitol building. When reporters continued to ask questions, Diehl simply repeated the talking points initially released in a written statement on Wednesday afternoon.

The Kansas City Star reported on Wednesday that Diehl had exchanged a series of sexually-charged text messages with a Missouri Southern State University freshman who was participating in that school's State Capitol internship program. The paper reported the school had abruptly ended the program earlier this spring.

House Democrats were quick to denounce Diehl's alleged actions and demanded his resignation. St. Louis Rep. Stacey Newman said as a mother of a college-age daughter, she felt "disgusted". Fellow Rep. Gina Mitten began circulating a petition to force a vote on the issue. As of Wednesday afternoon, the petition had gathered 37 of the required 82 signatures.

"This is a blemish over the entire General Assembly and every single member in it," Mitten said, "and to say that you're taking responsibility and then refusing to step down is disingenuous."

House Republicans held a caucus with Diehl for about an hour beginning at 7:30 p.m. Members refused to comment when they emerged, though they did say Diehl was still speaker.

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