An anti-gay politician’s aide has been fired after police found him in the middle of a sexual encounter with a 17-year-old boy.
Nick Provenzano, 56, served as deputy district director to Randy Hultgren, a Republican congressman for Illinois who has spoken against same-sex marriage.
But the aide was fired this week after Hultgren’s office discovered that a police officer had found him shirtless with a teenage boy he met on Grindr, in an SUV with its lights off, parked on a dead-end road.
According to a police report obtained by Politico, Provenzano was in the driver’s seat when the police approached the vehicle.
The deputy district director told the officer that he and the teenager – who was fully clothed – were simply “hanging out” and “talking about life.”
When the officer asked why he was shirtless, Provenzano said he had removed his top because it was hot.
The aide told the officer later that he “did not want to admit to anything, but stated that contact between him and [the teenager] was consensual in nature”.
He added that “nobody was forced or coerced each other to engage in any acts they did not want to, and that he believed [the teenager] was eighteen (18) years old.”
The age of consent in Illinois is 17, or 18 if the other person “holds a position of trust, authority, or supervision in relation to the victim”.
The teenager told police that he had engaged in sexual contact in the car with Provenzano, adding that he had “willingly consented” to it after meeting the aide on Grindr.
State’s Attorney Patrick Kenneally said: “There was no allegation of force… and (Provenzano) did not have any special relationship, such as a teacher or family member, that might support charges.”
The congressman’s communications director Jameson Cunningham said that Hultgren and his office had only learned about the incident, which took place in October, last week.
He said: “Prior to Wednesday, Nick had not made us aware of this.
“He was immediately placed on leave and then terminated on Monday.”
As Provenzano is facing no charges, it is not clear why he has been fired.
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Last week, anti-gay ‘family values’ Republican Bill Dix resigned after he was caught cheating on his wife.
Dix, who had been in the Senate since 2011, co-sponsored an amendment to the state constitution which would have defined marriage as solely heterosexual.
And Dix was far from the first ‘family values’ Republican to get in trouble for their behaviour.
Last year, Ohio congressman Wes Goodman – a married Republican lawmaker with a long history of campaigning against LGBT rights – resigned after being caught having gay sex in his office.
The politician wrote on his now-defunct website about “healthy, vibrant, thriving, values-driven families” being “the key to Ohio’s future greatness.
Republican Ralph Shortey, a senior member of Donald Trump’s primary campaign team in Oklahoma, stepped down as state senator last March after being discovered in a hotel room with a 17-year-old boy who Shortey hired as a prostitute.
Later in the year, he pleaded guilty to a child sex trafficking offence for soliciting sex from the boy.
In exchange for this plea, federal prosecutors dropped three counts of child pornography against the former politician.
And just earlier this month, it was revealed that Erika Harold, a Republican candidate for Illinois Attorney General, allegedly said she would rather hand over a child to known child abusers than a loving gay couple.