New gay sex scandal embroils New Life and Ted Haggard

Fresh revelations have emerged that disgraced evangelical leader Ted Haggard had a previously undisclosed cash-for-sex relationship with a young male New Life Church volunteer.

An Associated Press report claims that Haggard was involved in an “inappropriate, consensual sexual relationship” that “went on for a long period of time … it wasn’t a one-time act,” according to Brady Boyd, the pastor who succeeded the embattled former leader of the 10,000 member New Life Church in Colorado Springs.

Boyd told the wire service that a young man in his early 20s approached church leaders about the relationship after Haggard stepped down from his post following news of a gay sex-drug scandal involving Denver male escort Mike Jones.

Unlike Jones, however, AP reports “the church reached a legal settlement to pay the man for counseling and college tuition, with one condition being that none of the parties involved discuss the matter publicly.”

“It wasn’t at all a settlement to make him be quiet or not tell his story,” Boyd said. “Our desire was to help him. Here was a young man who wanted to get on with his life. We considered it more compassionate assistance – certainly not hush money. I know what’s what everyone will want to say because that’s the most salacious thing to say, but that’s not at all what it was.”

Boyd believes the unnamed man is now talking to the press ahead of an HBO documentary on Haggard that is set to air Jan. 29.

“I think what caused this young man to be a bit aggravated was Ted being seen as a victim, when he himself had experienced a great deal of hurt,” Boyd said. “I seriously doubt this man would have come forward if the documentary had not been made.”

Boyd posted a message this evening to parishioners on his New Life blog:

Haggard is in full-on publicity mode for next week’s broadcast of a bio-pic directed by Alexandra Pelosi, daughter of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

This latest scandal follows a kerfluffle last week after Haggard claimed Speaker Pelosi offered him words of comfort during the tribulations of his failed heterosexual restoration process — a recollection pointedly denied by both mother and daughter Pelosi.

In Nov., Haggard made news when he confessed to having been sexually abused as a child during a guest sermon at a small congregation in rural Illinois.

That revelation was preceded by a bizarre Aug. 2007 cash-for-heaven plea in which Haggard sent friends a letter asking for money, and offering in exchange a tacit promise that contributors would go to heaven. He didn’t mention he also still owns his home, in Colorado Springs, worth more than a half million dollars. Amid howls of public outrage, he abandoned his scheme.

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Wendy Norris

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