RALEIGH (AP) — A registered sex offender selected as an alternate delegate to the Republican National Convention from North Carolina resigned after his status was reported.
Harvey L. West Jr., 41, resigned about an hour after The News & Observer of Raleigh reported his status online Thursday, the newspaper reported (http://bit.ly/OM8yXu).
West had been nominated by Republicans in the 3rd Congressional District as an alternate to the convention in Tampa, Fla. Republicans in each congressional district choose their delegates in an independent election and the state party has limited influence over delegate selection. West would have gone to the national convention if another delegate was unable to attend.
West said in an email to North Carolina Republican Party Chairman Robin Hayes he was honored and surprised at being selected as a delegate but was resigning to avoid political opponents using him as a weapon.
West pleaded guilty in 2000 to five counts of taking indecent liberties with children. When released from state custody in 2006, he was required to register as a sex offender and will spend at least a decade on North Carolina’s registry.
West said in an interview he did not commit the crimes. He said he pleaded guilty to at age 28 only to avoid risking decades behind bars.
“There’s no way you can defend yourself . this is who I am, and this is what happened to me,” West said. “I was given my right to vote back, and I have a right to the political process. When do I get to live my life?”
Officials in Beaufort County, where the crimes were committed, were not able to immediately provide West’s case file and court records. North Carolina law describes the offense of taking indecent liberties with a child as taking or attempting to take “any immoral, improper or indecent liberties” with anyone less than 16 years old, or committing “lewd or lascivious” acts with a child.