GOP state senator accused of soliciting prostitution

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A West Virginia state senator has been charged with soliciting prostitution, and now faces calls from the state’s Democratic party to resign from office.

Republican state Sen. Mike Maroney turned himself in to police on Wednesday around 9 a.m., the Glen Dale, West Virginia, police chief confirmed to CNN on Thursday.

Maroney was arraigned in Marshall County Magistrate Court on Wednesday morning and released on bond. He pleaded not guilty to the charge, which carries a maximum of six months in county jail and a $100 fine for first time offenders.

CNN has reached out to Maroney and his attorney for comment.

During an investigation, Glen Dale police discovered a cellphone number registered to Maroney soliciting sex from a local woman, Cortnie Clark, who was arrested and charged with both prostitution and operating a house of prostitution in June, according to a criminal complaint filed this week. Clark is currently being detained in Northern Regional Jail. Robert McCoid, an attorney representing Clark, told CNN on Thursday that he had no comment on the case involving Maroney, but did say his client was currently incarcerated on an unrelated matter to Maroney.

McCoid said he has filed a writ in a separate prostitution charge Clark is facing, challenging the constitutionality of West Virginia’s prostitution statute on the grounds that it’s vague and does not define the crime. McCoid said that they hope that the trial judge will ultimately stay prosecution of all the prostitution charges against her.

Glen Dale police Lt. Mark Martin confirmed to CNN that the investigation into Clark is still ongoing and that police had not yet received notification of her next hearing.

The first documented text exchange was in May when Clark discussed prices and arranged a time to meet at her house, the complaint reads.

Throughout the conversation, Clark requested a photo of the individual, believed to be Maroney, soliciting her, the complaint reads. Initially the individual declined, but Clark later received a picture of a man smiling directly into the camera, along with the message, “now can i stop by”, according to the complaint.

A police officer compared the picture with Maroney’s driver license and “believes both pictures to be of Mr. Maroney,” the complaint states. The cell phone is currently in possession of the Glen Dale police, Martin confirmed.

According to the complaint, officers said Clark admitted during several instances that she is a sex worker and that she turned to prostitution so she could buy heroin, according to the complaint. Two people have already pleaded guilty to soliciting Clark for prostitution, the complaint notes.

“Senator Mike Maroney believed that he was above the law and today he’s been charged with soliciting prostitution,” Belinda Biafore, the chairwoman of the West Virginia Democratic Party, said in a statement Wednesday. “We’re calling for the removal of Senator Mike Maroney from the West Virginia State Senate, and we’re looking to Governor Jim Justice and Senate President Mitch Carmichael to take the appropriate actions moving forward to make this happen.”

CNN has reached out to Carmichael and the West Virginia Republican Party.

CORRECTION: This story has been updated to correctly state that Clark’s attorney has already filed a writ challenging West Virginia’s prostitution statute.