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Former A.C. official denies seeking sex

MAYS LANDING, N.J. - Eugene Robinson said sex was the last thing on his mind as he drove the pretty young girl who had asked for a ride to her motel.

Eugene Robinson was "surprised" at a prostitute's advances. (AP)
Eugene Robinson was "surprised" at a prostitute's advances. (AP)Read more

MAYS LANDING, N.J. - Eugene Robinson said sex was the last thing on his mind as he drove the pretty young girl who had asked for a ride to her motel.

"I was waiting for God to send me the one that's supposed to be my Christian wife," he said. "That's what it says in the Bible."

Yet within minutes of taking the girl to a cheap motel in neighboring Absecon, the 67-year-old Atlantic City councilman and Baptist minister was receiving oral sex.

"I was so surprised," he testified yesterday in an Atlantic County courtroom. "I, um, hadn't really had any sexual activity since '89. I thought that, naively, we were going to just pet."

He didn't know that the woman was a prostitute allegedly hired by his political rivals to lure him into a sex sting, or that a camera hidden in a clock radio near the bed was recording the tryst.

Three men are on trial for conspiracy, criminal coercion, and invasion of privacy in the videotaping case, which prosecutors allege was intended to ruin Robinson politically and personally for switching his political allegiance from former Council President Craig Callaway, who had just admitted taking bribes and was on his way to prison.

Two of Callaway's brothers, Ronald and David, and friend Floyd Tally are accused of helping to carry out the blackmail plot, which flopped when Robinson refused to resign and contacted authorities instead.

During Robinson's testimony, a portrait emerged of a lonely man suddenly faced with the prospect of intimacy after years without. After their encounter, Robinson said, he went back to the motel about an hour later, hoping the woman was still there.

"I was all jammed up with sexual feeling because I hadn't had sex since 1989," he testified. "That's a long time."

But the woman, identified as Kristyn Haino, was long gone. She testified Tuesday that some of the defendants drove her around Atlantic City in November 2006, looking for Robinson, and promised her $200 to $300 to lure him to the motel and have sex, provided she got him to hand her money.

She approached him outside a 7-Eleven, saying she needed a ride to the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, on the other side of the city, where her friends were. Robinson said at first he resisted because he had to meet a friend.

"At first I kept saying, 'No, no, no,' " Robinson testified. "But then I thought, If you send a tourist away angry, they'll tell people not to come to Atlantic City. I don't think she would have been able to convince me if I wasn't so tired."

Robinson said Haino asked him for money to buy sodas, and he handed her a dollar - an exchange captured on the videotape that was designed to make it look like he was paying her for sex.

He testified he had no idea the woman was a prostitute or that their activity was anything but consensual sex between adults.

A few weeks later, Robinson was home when someone knocked on the door and asked him to move his sport-utility vehicle, saying it was blocking another vehicle. As he walked outside, a man he did not recognize came up to him holding a laptop computer.

Robinson testified the man said, " 'I got this video of you with an underage prostitute!' "

The man said that if Robinson didn't resign, the man would take the video to the media and to Robinson's church, the minister testified.

Robinson said he became angry and threatened to call the police. As the man walked away, he kept yelling back, " 'You've got 75 minutes, Robinson, 75 minutes!' "

"I knew it was not true," Robinson testified. "I got mad at myself that he had me running scared for something I knew wasn't so."

Days later, a local radio reporter aired a story claiming to have a video showing an Atlantic City councilman having sex with an underage girl. (Haino was 24 at the time.)

Robinson said he hired a lawyer and contacted the Atlantic County Prosecutor's Office, saying he was being blackmailed.

Though he has not asserted a cause-and-effect relationship, Robinson's health took a drastic turn for the worse after the existence of the sex video became known. He now lives in a nursing home and was wheeled into court in a wheelchair before the jury arrived, a blanket covering his legs.

He spoke in a frail voice, saying he takes eight prescription medicines daily, including painkillers and prescriptions for diabetes. Under questioning from a defense lawyer, Robinson said his condition is aggravated by stress.

"They said it has something to do with the central nervous system," Robinson said. "That was caused by extreme anxiety."