World

Idaho senator resigns over sex scandal

U.S. Senator Larry Craig announced his resignation on Saturday, bowing to pressure from fellow Republicans worried about a sex scandal dimming their election prospects.

U.S. Senator Larry Craig announced his resignation on Saturday, bowing topressure from fellow Republicans worried about a sex scandal dimming their election prospects.

Craig's decision completed adownfall that began Monday with the disclosure that he had pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of disorderly conduct following his arrest in June during a sex sting at a men's washroom at theMinneapolis-St. Paulairport.

The following day, the Idaho legislator announcedthe guilty pleahad been an attempt to avoid publicity, but that heregretted making the plea. Craig said he wanted toavoid the headlines of a hometown newspaper that had alleged he'd had sex with men.

"For eight months leading up to June 11, my family and I have been relentlessly and viciously harassed by the Idaho Statesman," he said.

"Let me be clear: I am not gay, I never have been gay,"Craig said in a televised statement earlier in the week."I did nothing wrong at the Minneapolis airport."

At a brief news conference in Boise, Idaho, on Saturday, Craig said it was with "sadness and deep regret" that he wouldvacate his seat in the Senate,effective Sept. 30.

"I apologize for what I have caused," he said.

Thesenatorwas charged after a male undercover policeman testified Craig had made what the officer interpreted as sexual advancesfrom an adjacentcubicle.

Craig had been a vocal opponent of gay rights in the U.S. and represents one of the most senior voices in the conservative wing of the Republican party.

On Wednesday, three Republicans in Congress, including Arizona Senator John McCain, who is seeking his party's 2008 presidential nomination, said Craig should resign.

"My opinion is that when you plead guilty to a crime then you shouldn't serve," McCain said.

Craig, 62, has represented Idaho in Congress for more than a quarter-century and would have been up for re-election next year.

With files from the Associated Press