By Sharon Coolidge, Cindi Andrews and Dan Horn
Enquirer staff writers
Hamilton County Prosecutor Mike Allen admitted Wednesday that he had a 3½ -year extramarital affair with a female lawyer who works in his office.
Allen - a married father of two children and one of the county's leading public figures - said he made the relationship public because he thinks a lawsuit might be filed against him by the woman.
He asked for forgiveness and said he will not resign.
"What I did was wrong, hurtful to myself and my family," Allen said in an interview. "I made an error, and I'm making it right with my family."
The announcement was a jolt not only to Allen and his family, but also to a successful political career that had been built around law enforcement and family values.
Allen has aggressively prosecuted obscenity cases and has expressed moral outrage over a wide range of issues, from clergy-abuse scandals to the arrest of a Cincinnati man who photographed bodies at the county morgue.
He said he doesn't expect his affair, or the public's response to it, to change the way he does his job.
"I have never said I am the moral conscience of this community," Allen said.
Statement by Mike Allen, Hamilton County prosecutor, delivered at a news conference in his downtown Cincinnati offices.
"Over the past five years, I have summoned you here to tell you of one accomplishment or another of this office. Almost all of it has been positive and good news. What I am about to tell you is neither positive or good.
"I stand before you to confess the worst mistake of my life.
"From December, 1999, until August of 2003, I was involved in an extramarital affair; a mutually consensual relationship with a female lawyer with whom I had worked at the Prosecutor's Office. It was a betrayal of the values I have always held most dear. It hurt my family and nearly wrecked my marriage. I have dedicated myself to earning their forgiveness. But that is between my family and me, and will remain that way. I ask that everyone respect their privacy.
"You may ask why I am making this statement today. I had hoped to spare my family the pain of my previous consensual affair being made public. Regrettably, I have become aware through media inquiries that my private life is being exposed and that litigation is about to be initiated.
"Trying to avoid this publicly by paying money or taking other action is not acceptable to me under these circumstances because no amount of money will erase my human failing in having a consensual extramarital affair.
"I have no excuse for this consensual relationship. I am ashamed and know that many who have supported and trusted me will be disappointed. For this I apologize to you. I ask your forgiveness and will need your support at this time in my life.
"I will continue to do the best that I can in my job as Hamilton County Prosecutor. I can assure you something like this will not happen again. I will also work hard to gain my family's respect. But I believe I still have much to give to my community.
"I ask my friends and the community to forgive me for my failings and give me a chance to earn your respect again.''
ABOUT MIKE ALLEN
Appointed prosecutor in 1999. Elected prosecutor in 2000.
Running unopposed in November for a second four-year term.
Oversees 115 lawyers and a support staff of 90.
Graduate of Elder High School and University of Cincinnati, where he serves on the Board of Trustees.
Former Hamilton County Municipal Court judge, assistant prosecuting attorney, Cincinnati and UC police officer, and chief deputy/administrator of the Hamilton County Clerk of Courts office.
Former chairman of the Hamilton County Republican Party. Chairman, Southwest Ohio Bush-Cheney campaign.
Married to Lisa Allen, a Hamilton County Municipal Court judge. They have two children and live in Miami Township.
"Does it help me? Certainly not. But I don't think it affects my job."
The impact on his future is uncertain. His ties to the community and to the Republican political establishment run deep.
At 48, he's already held several top county jobs, from municipal court judge to Republican Party chairman.
And he's amassed a campaign fund of more than $250,000, even though he's running unopposed for re-election in November.
He would not comment when asked what his announcement might mean for his long-term aspirations, which he has hinted could include a run for statewide office.
"It's just not something I'm thinking about now," Allen said. "I'm trying to repair the damage to my family."
Allen has two children with his wife, Lisa, a Hamilton County Municipal Court judge. He said his family helped him make the decision to confront rumors. They already had known about the affair, Allen said.
As Southwest Ohio chairman of the Bush-Cheney campaign, Allen had planned to attend the Republican National Convention next week.
He has been in New York making preparations, but flew home Wednesday morning to make the announcement.
He said he would not return to the convention and would spend more time with his family.
The Bush campaign is aware of his announcement, Allen said. Bush-Cheney officials did not return several phone calls for comment Wednesday.
"I don't know if it affects my role'' as chairman, Allen said.
Allen made the announcement alone at a news conference at the prosecutor's office Wednesday afternoon.
Usually authoritative and animated, Allen read an eight-paragraph statement in a subdued manner. He left without taking questions.
Allen described the relationship with the woman as "the worst mistake of my life."
He said the affair lasted from December 1999 to August 2003.
"It was a betrayal of the values I have always held most dear," Allen said. "It hurt my family and nearly wrecked my marriage. I have dedicated myself to earning their forgiveness."
Allen said he would not make excuses.
"I am ashamed and know that many who have supported and trusted me will be disappointed," he said. "For this, I apologize to you. I ask your forgiveness and will need your support at this time in my life."
Although no lawsuit has been filed, Allen said he has heard that one might be filed against him. He wouldn't discuss the possibility of a lawsuit, but alluded to discussions about a payment of some kind.
"Trying to avoid this publicly by paying money or taking other action is not acceptable to me under these circumstances because no amount of money will erase my human failing in having a consensual extramarital affair," Allen said.
The prosecutor's office has a policy that forbids sexual harassment. Although Allen said what he did was wrong, he said it "in no way, shape or form" violated that policy.
The female lawyer, who was not identified, continues to work as an assistant county prosecutor.
Allen became prosecutor in 1999 and was elected to the post a year later. A graduate of Elder High School, Allen has spent most of his life in law enforcement, starting with a job as a Cincinnati police officer.
Several local Republicans expressed surprise - but not condemnation - at Allen's revelations.
"I think very highly of Mike and his wife," state Rep. Bill Seitz of Green Township said. "Right now, we should be praying for the complete reconciliation of Mike and Judge Allen."
Said state Rep. Tom Brinkman of Mount Lookout: "Let those without sin among you cast the first stone."
Other prominent Republicans, including party Chairman Michael Barrett and County Commissioner Phil Heimlich, had no comment Wednesday.
County commissioners are watching the Allen developments closely. Democratic Commissioner Todd Portune noted that if an employee sues Allen, the county could also be named in the case. That would subject the county to legal fees and possible damages.
The commissioners will consult with outside legal counsel - not the prosecutor's office - if the county is sued along with Allen.
Allen said he will continue to do the best job he can.
"...I still have much to give to my community," he said. "I ask my friends and the community to forgive me for my failings and give me a chance to earn your respect again."
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