Missouri House speaker resigning after intern text messages

FILE - In this Jan. 7, 2015, file photo, John J. Diehl Jr., center, is sworn in as the Speaker Pro Tem of the House of Representatives during the opening of the Missouri legislature in Jefferson City, Mo. Diehl apologized Wednesday, May 13, 2015, for his "poor judgment" following a newspaper report that he had exchanged sexually charged text messages with a college student who was serving as a Capitol intern. (Don Shrubshell/The Columbia Daily Tribune via AP, File)

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri House Speaker John Diehl said Thursday that he is resigning from the Legislature after acknowledging that he exchanged sexually charged text messages with a college student serving as a Capitol intern.

Diehl said he is stepping down both from his House speaker’s position and from his elected job as a Republican representative from suburban St. Louis. He said the resignation will take effect either Thursday or Friday, depending on when an orderly transition can be arranged.

Diehl acknowledged “making a serious error in judgment by sending the text messages” to the intern.

“I’m going to do what’s best for the (House) body and the (Republican) caucus, and step aside out of my office,” Diehl said in an interview with The Associated Press and reporters from three other media outlets.

The college student with whom Diehl had exchanged text messages had been an intern for another House member. She no longer works at the Capitol, and Missouri Southern State University also removed its three other interns from Jefferson City.

The intern declined to comment Wednesday and referred the AP to attorney Phil Willoughby, a former Democratic state House member. She “is not interested in being at the center of any political debate concerning her internship or the workings of the state Capitol,” Willoughby said.

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