Former Rep. Mel Reynolds holed up in S. Africa awaiting return to U.S.

March 4, 2014 at 1:53 PM
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PRETORIA, South Africa, March 4 (UPI) -- Shamed ex-Rep. Mel Reynolds, D-Ill., said he's been in South Africa after being deported from Zimbabwe, where he says officials faked porn charges against him.

Reynolds, who spoke with WBBM-TV, Chicago, by phone Monday, also said he developed an infection while jailed in Zimbabwe last month.

He said his life was in danger and that he requested protection from the U.S. government as he prepares to return to Chicago.

During the interview with the television station, Reynolds suggested Zimbabwe officials inflated accusations to discredit him after he compiled information about the nation's corrupt government.

"They knew all they had to do was put S-E-X in anything related to me, and the press would run with that," Reynolds told WBBM.

"I was convicted of having sex with someone underage," Reynolds said. "In 47 states in America, that wouldn't have been a crime."

Reynolds represented Illinois' 2nd Congressional District from 1993 to 1995, when he was convicted in a sex scandal involving an underage campaign worker. While serving that sentence, also was convicted of violating federal financial and campaign laws. President Bill Clinton commuted Reynolds' sentence on bank fraud charges before he left office in 2001.

A judge in Zimbabwe dismissed the pornography charges against Reynolds, citing improper police paperwork. Instead, Reynolds pleaded guilty to overstaying his visa and paid a fine.

Reynolds, traveling with his daughter, said he was at an undisclosed location in South Africa and plans to return to Chicago soon.

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