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A Real Life Scandal

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Christine Beatty
Christine Beatty
Photo Credit: Quantrell Colbert

When Detroit's mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and his female chief of staff lied under oath about their affair, they were both sent to jail. Christine Beatty, the woman at the center of the headline-making "sexting" case, reveals what really went on behind the scenes and what it took for her to reclaim her life.

My alarm went off at 7 A.M. Nestled against me in bed were my two daughters, ages 8 and 10, sound asleep in their matching pajamas. I smiled at them as they opened their eyes; I was determined to make the morning as normal as possible. We cuddled for a few minutes, then I got out of bed to dress. The girls quickly followed, trailing me into the bathroom. They curled up on the bath mat, and we talked about the Christmas presents they had recently received and their plans for school the next day. For a few sweet hours, January 5, 2009, was almost like any other morning. But then it was time for me to say good-bye.

At 8:15 A.M. I stood in my foyer with my ex-husband, who had come over to support the children. Even though I’d done everything I could to prepare the girls for this day, reassuring them over and over that we were all going to be okay, this was the moment I’d been dreading. My ex held our younger daughter as she leaned out of his arms and reached for me, tears streaming down her face. I kissed her one last time, then knelt down to give my older child another hug. “I love you,” I whispered in her ear. “I’ll be back before you know it. I promise.” As I stood up to go, my daughter latched onto my leg, trying to prevent me from walking out the door. “Don’t go, Mommy; please don’t go!” she wailed. My children’s anguish cut right through me, making me feel as though I might pass out. I gathered my strength. “Baby, it’s going to be all right,” I said, turning to leave. Then I closed my eyes and began to pray.

Standing on my doorstep in the cold Detroit air, it was still inconceivable to me that in a matter of minutes I would be turning myself in to serve a four-month jail sentence for lying under oath about an adulterous relationship I’d had with the mayor of Detroit, Kwame Kilpatrick. At the time I was the mayor’s chief of staff. Despite what that sounds like, I didn’t sleep my way into the position. I worked my way up, serving as deputy campaign manager in Kwame’s first mayoral bid in 2001 and then as his campaign manager in his come-from-behind reelection win as mayor in 2005.

Kwame and I had kept our relationship hidden for nearly six years, but on January 24, 2008, the Detroit Free Press published scores of intimate text messages we had exchanged over the years. In an instant I became the woman at the center of a political sex scandal, the first ever to involve sexting. I immediately resigned from my position in the mayor’s office and was forced to drop out of Wayne State University Law School, where I had been pursuing a law degree, a goal I’d had for some time. I had disgraced my family and friends, lost my career, compromised the hard work of my colleagues and our administration, and let down my city. That morning, as I headed to the car in which my pastor and his wife were waiting to take me to the courthouse, I had only one thought: How would I ever redeem myself?

To read the full feature on Christine Beatty, pick up the November issue of ESSENCE now!

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