The president of Jefferson Parish (JP) in Louisiana is facing petitions for recall after refusing to resign his post following allegations that he sent sexually explicit text messages to a 17 year-old boy.
Mike Yenni, a 40 year-old married father and lieutenant in the Naval Reserve, admits he sent inappropriate text messages to a teen boy when he was mayor of Kenner in 2015. Yenni did not indicate the details of the message nor identify the boy, reports WDSU.
— Jennifer Crockett (@CrockettWDSU) October 10, 2016
FBI investigators have interviewed at least four people regarding the sexting messages. Yenni – who has not been charged with a crime – sent sexually explicit text message to the teen after noticing him at a high school event, reports WWL-TV, which continues:
The youth who received the messages said Yenni, who was then the mayor of Kenner, first saw him at a function at his high school, a local Catholic institution. He said a mutual friend, who was 19 at the time, helped Yenni connect with him.
The friend, who allegedly helped connect the two, declined to be interviewed by WWL-TV. The youth said he and Yenni began to talk on the phone and text one another, and soon, the politician came to visit him at his job at a mall food court. They met in a bathroom, the youth said, and Yenni gave him some designer underwear. They kissed briefly.
The texting continued, becoming more explicit over time. The youth provided WWL-TV what he says are copies of the text exchanges that were recovered after they were deleted, on the condition that the station not directly quote from them. Printouts of the messages appear to indicate they came from a cell phone account linked to Yenni in multiple online search engines. WWL-TV called the number in June and got the same outgoing voicemail message, featuring Yenni’s voice, as could be heard on Yenni’s official parish cell phone at the time.
The phone listed on the printouts of the text messages is not billed to taxpayers.
According to printouts of those texts, Yenni tells the teen he wants him naked.
Days later, Yenni writes to ask the 17-year-old if he’s worn the underwear Yenni bought him. Yenni says he wants to see him model it.
Then Yenni texts the teen to say he wants to perform a sex act on him that night.
The youth, who is openly gay and is now in college, said in an interview with WWL-TV that he wants to expose Yenni’s behavior because he finds it disturbing.
While the youth was initially flattered and intrigued by Yenni’s overtures, he said the texts and phone conversations began to make him uncomfortable, such as one proposing three-way sex with him and the 19-year-old mutual friend.
“He asked me to go with him to his house in Oxford (Mississippi),” the youth said. Records show Yenni owns an apartment there. “Also, the way he would describe the sexual things he wanted to do to me. And he asked me to be a secretary or assistant in his office; that way I could be with him and not be questioned.”
Weeks after the sexting began, in June 2015, the youth said he broke off communication and blocked Yenni’s number.
In a statement from his office Monday, Yenni, a Republican, announced that he will not resign his position because “the incident at the center of this allegation is personal” and, in no way, does it “impact my ability to govern.”
“I have read with humility your request for my resignation,” Yenni said. “While I understand your position and your concerns, I have and will continue to dutifully perform the obligations of the Office of Parish President.”
As I noted in my statement, my actions are regrettable, and I am penitent. I have accepted responsibility for my poor judgment, and I apologized publicly to all parties involved. I did not violate any laws, I have not been contacted by any investigatory agency, especially the FBI, regarding this allegation.
I want to put this in the proper perspective. I have been true to the oath that I have taken. I stated clearly that I never abused or misused my powers as a public official and there has been no misuse of tax dollars or public assets. And, I will work harder than ever to prove that good can rise from a bad decision.
Yenni is facing a chorus of calls for his resignation and warnings to stay clear of school campuses.
Jefferson Parish Council members called upon Yenni to resign, and the school board discussed banning him from their schools. Both the Gretna and Westwego City Councils voted for his resignation. Assessor Tom Capella, clerk of court Jon Gegenheimer, coroner Gerry Cvitanovich and sheriff Newell Normand also called for Yenni’s resignation.
U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, the House Majority Whip, cancelled his fundraiser scheduled with Yenni, citing the “deeply concerning” allegations.
Nationally, the New York Post cited Yenni’s “bizarre infomercial” in which he admitted to the sexting scandal.
Metairie attorney Robert Evans III filed a petition Wednesday to begin a recall.
Attorney G. Patrick Hand III tells Breitbart News he is also filing for a recall drive. In his petition, Hand says:
I don’t care about Mr. Yenni’s sexual preference (male or female). It makes absolutely no difference to me.
However, the fact that Mr. Yenni did this with a minor, regardless of the age of consent in LA (17 y.o.a.), is very disturbing to me and many others.
The fact that Mr. Yenni met his victim at an alumni function held by Mr. Yenni’s Alma Mater, which is the same school the victim attended at the time (Jesuit High School), is very disturbing to me and many others.
Many people believe Mr. Yenni used his power and influence to gain access to the 17 year old boy in question, and that he has used his power and influence to attempt to gain access to other minors.
I am being told by members of Mr. Yenni’s own family that there is much more to this story than simply sending inappropriate texts to a young man, as Mr. Yenni put it in his recent “apology video.”
Terri Timmcke, a Jefferson Parish resident who asked for Yenni’s resignation at the JP Council meeting and is also a member of the STOP Common Core Coalition in Louisiana, tells Breitbart News, “The members of the activist group are all concerned about the welfare of our school children, and so many are sharing information on social media sites and contacting public officials in the hopes that widespread outrage will compel President Yenni to resign.”
“My biggest fear is that we, as a society, are now going to accept immoral behavior from public officials as long as it is not technically ‘illegal,’” she added.
Breitbart News contacted Yenni for comment through his email address but received no response.