As a Washington judge prepares to decide whether the contents of Spokane Mayor James West’s city-owned computer are part of the public record, the mayor is arguing that numerous gay-oriented photos on the laptop were placed there automatically.

This is the latest development in the ongoing saga of West, who was outed earlier this year after chatting with an undercover reporter in a gay chat room. West was subsequently accused by two men of using his position as mayor to offer career advancements in exchange for sex.

A computer expert hired by the The Spokesman-Review said that West and his lawyers are wrong and that material of a “pornographic nature” was deliberately downloaded to West’s computer.

Superior Judge Richard Miller of Adams County scheduled a hearing for Thursday afternoon to discuss West’s effort to keep the contents of his computer sealed, and the judge is expected to render a decision then.

West faces a recall election over the sex scandal and is trying to keep the contents of his laptop computer secret on the grounds that they are too offensive for the public to see.

Earlier this week, West’s lawyers filed a court document saying a city computer expert was able to prove that the Web site Gay.com automatically placed pictures and other material about gay men onto the computers of visitors to the site.

“All of the thumbnail pictures from the member profiles that I viewed had been automatically downloaded to the Internet cache folder,” Garv Brakel wrote in his affidavit.

West, a longtime Republican state senator and outspoken opponent of gay rights, has acknowledged that he was closeted but has denied breaking any laws.

He has admitted that he visited Gay.com on numerous occasions using his work computer, but denies that he deliberately downloaded the some 1,800 files that The Spokesman-Review is demanding to see.

Based on his testing, Brakel said a recent affidavit by Josiah Roloff, a computer expert the newspaper hired, may be inaccurate. Roloff contended that a user must select and view the pictures in member profiles in order for them to be downloaded.

Roloff, of Global CompuSearch LLC of Spokane, was hired by lawyers for The Spokesman-Review, which has been seeking access to records on West’s computer in its investigation into whether he abused his office by offering young gay men public appointments and jobs in exchange for sex.

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