DETROIT - Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and his former top aide pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges they lied under oath about having an affair.
The mayor and former Chief of Staff Christine Beatty appeared for separate hearings in the scandal that is threatening to prematurely end Kilpatrick's second term.
District Court Magistrate Steve Lockhart entered not guilty pleas for each of them on charges of perjury, conspiracy, obstruction of justice and misconduct in office. Both were released on personal bonds.
The two are accused of lying under oath about an affair and their roles in the firing of a top police official. Text messages first reported by the Detroit Free Press revealed a flirty, sometimes explicit, dialogue between the two.
Attorneys for Kilpatrick and Beatty have said their clients will be exonerated.
In setting the mayor's personal bond, Lockhart noted defendants generally are restricted to the state of Michigan while their cases are pending. However, given Kilpatrick's position, Lockhart granted him the right to travel anywhere within the United States without prior permission, but said Kilpatrick still must give advance notice to the court.
Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy announced the charges on Monday after an investigation that began in late January after the Detroit Free Press published excerpts from 14,000 text messages that were sent or received in 2002-03 from Beatty's city-issued pager.
The messages called into question testimony Kilpatrick and Beatty gave last August in a lawsuit filed by two police officers who said they were fired for investigating claims that the mayor used his security unit to cover up extramarital affairs.
In court, Kilpatrick and Beatty strongly denied having an intimate relationship. But the steamy text messages revealed a dialogue about where to meet and how to conceal their trysts.
Kilpatrick, 37, is married with three children. Beatty, also 37, was married at the time and has two children.
The city eventually agreed to pay $8.4 million to the two officers and a third former officer. Some of the charges brought against the mayor accuse him of agreeing to the settlement in an effort to keep the text messages from becoming public.
"I'm madly in love with you," Kilpatrick wrote on Oct. 3, 2002.
"I hope you feel that way for a long time," Beatty replied. "In case you haven't noticed, I am madly in love with you, too!"
On Oct. 16, 2002, Kilpatrick wrote: "I've been dreaming all day about having you all to myself for 3 days. Relaxing, laughing, talking, sleeping and making love."
All of the charges against the mayor are felonies. Under the city charter, a felony conviction would mean the mayor's immediate expulsion.
Kilpatrick has said he will not resign, and his attorney, Dan Webb, said forcing him to step down now would punish the mayor before he has had his day in court.