CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia state Sen. Mike Maroney has been charged with soliciting a prostitute.
The Republican lawmaker turned himself in and was arraigned Wednesday morning, a Marshall County court clerk said. He has pleaded not guilty and paid a $4,500 bond.
Maroney exchanged text messages to discuss prices and set up meetings with a woman who has acknowledged being a prostitute, according to a criminal complaint. He also sent her a picture of himself smiling along with a message reading "now can I stop by" after she said she wouldn't meet without a photo of him.
Police have been investigating the woman, Cortnie Clark, and say two people have already pleaded guilty to soliciting her for sex. She has been criminally charged and has told police she became a prostitute so she could buy heroin, according to the complaint. Her attorney didn't immediately return a message left at his office.
Authorities found used condoms, uncapped hypodermic needles and "an unimaginable amount" of human feces and urine throughout Clark's house. Before one of their meetings, she told Maroney her house was messy and he replied he didn't care about a mess, the complaint said.
Maroney, 51, did not return a voicemail left on his cellphone. His lawyer, Paul Harris, didn't immediately return a message left at his office.
West Virginia Senate President Mitch Carmichael issued a statement saying the allegations are "deeply disturbing" and that further statements would be released as the case continues.
Belinda Biafore, the chairwoman of the state Democratic party, is calling for Maroney to be removed from the Senate.
Maroney is the chairman of the Senate committee on health and human resources.