A married, Catholic Louisiana politician is facing calls to resign after it came to light that he sexted with a 17-year-old boy, bought him expensive underwear, and made out with him a little bit in a food court. Mike Yenni, who’s now president of Jefferson Parish but was mayor of the city of Kenner at the time, hasn’t said whether he’ll resign. He did, however, release a commercial about the sexting. As you do.
WWL TV reported in late September that Yenni exchanged sexually explicit texts with the teenager in 2015, when he was mayor, and that the FBI was investigating the messages. However, as the Times-Picayune notes, the age of consent is 17 in Louisiana, meaning that Yenni’s problem here is political, not necessarily legal. Yenni is the father of a toddler and met the teen at a Catholic school where he was giving a talk. They met once at a food court, where Yenni gifted the youth some undies; the more explicit texts included one where Yenni reportedly proposed having group sex with the teen and a friend.
The fallout here has been, well, predictable: virtually every official in Jefferson Parish has urged him to resign. Instead, he released an ad on October 6, saying he was very sorry but didn’t intend to quit.
“I’m addressing you through this commercial because I don’t want my words to be edited,” Yenni began. “I believe you deserve the truth from me directly. Last summer, I was old enough to know better, but I guess I was still young enough to still do something stupid. I chose to send improper texts to a young man. I won’t go into details out of respect for the rights and privacy of all parties.”
Yenni added, “I made a bad decision. I regret my actions. I apologize to the families involved and anyone who I embarrassed, especially my own family and the people of Jefferson. Now, I will work every day to prove that good people can rise from a bad decision. I want to reassure the citizens of Jefferson that I never abused or misused my powers as a public official. And I’m certainly not afraid of the future because I’m smart enough to never repeat the past.”
There’s a strong element of gay panic here, of course, but also a fairly reasonable displeasure from Jefferson officials that Yenni apparently used official visits to pick up a boy. On October 11, he also agreed not to visit any schools in the parish for now.
The Times-Pic also notes that Yenni believed some of his texts were leaked to a political opponent in 2010, when he was getting ready to run for mayor. There’s no indication of what he believed those texts contained. The FBI investigated that case too but didn’t bring charges.