By Troy Torres
Congressman Ed Propst, in an exclusive interview with Kandit News Thursday, said he and others may be suing those government officials and people aligned with the Torres administration for defamation of character and violation of civil rights.
The CNMI Attorney General's Office this week put to rest a controversy that sought to damage Mr. Propst, his family, and his political supporters. Last year, Irene Holl, a crony of Gov. Ralph Torres, made public accusations against Mr. Propst, alleging that he had sexually assaulted female minors 20 years ago. Among those who publicly called for investigations and insinuated the allegations were true were the governor's senior advisor, Robert Hunter.
Public safety commissioner Robert Guerrero issued three news releases on the matter. Governor's spokesman Kevin Bautista encouraged the political witch hunt and said the governor was supportive of the matter.
The attorney general's office Wednesday night issued a memorandum to the Department of Public Safety stating there was evidence to substantiate the claims, first raised on social media, that DPS had actively sought out those perceived to be victims, that those whom DPS claimed to be victims had no desire to press any charges, and that the statute of limitations to charge any crime had long since expired.
"It's looking like we're going to go down that road," Mr. Propst told Kandit when asked whether he will sue those responsible for defaming him. "Not just me, others are looking into this as well."
Mr. Propst confirmed that prior to the 2020 general election, he was approached by emissaries of the Torres administration who told him their attacks against him would continue unless he bowed out of the race for the CNMI House of Representatives.
"I have to admit, I caved into their extortion because I didn't want to put my family through all that," Mr. Propst said. Despite his backing down, the election commission could not remove his name from the ballot, and the people of Precinct 1 ended up electing him on election day.
Days after the election, and realizing Mr. Propst's vote could give the Democrats the majority, the Torres administration renewed its attacks against the congressman, vowing to complete its investigation against him and asking women to come forward.
Documents leaked to Kandit News in December showed at least one of the detectives involved in the case was actively sourcing women to make complaints against Propst.
The congressman said he is discussing with his attorney whether he will report the extortion to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.