The young Michigan college student who accused 2020 Democratic presidential candidate and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg of sexually assaulting him fully recanted his accusations on Tuesday, saying he was tricked, enticed with a house and even intimidated into making the false charges by two far-right, pro-Trump activists, reports The Daily Beast.
In a Medium post published under the name “Hunter Kelly,” which has since been removed by the website, “Mayor Pete” was falsely accused of raping Kelly after supposedly meeting him in a Washington, D.C. hotel bar. The post falsely claims that Kelly awoke in a hotel room after having been “sexually assaulted.”
In a new post on Facebook, the 19-year-old recounted how the Medium post was written without his input and posted without his permission by Jacob Wohl.
Wohl, The Daily Beast notes, is an “infamous conservative provocateur who is known mainly for the inanity of the schemes he concocts. But the one he crafted with Kelly may have been the most absurd to date—a bizarre Coen Brothers-like plan that fizzled out right as it took off.”
The news outlet reports that Wohl had been feverishly attempting to recruit gay Republicans who would levy accusations against Buttigieg, according to at least one Republican who was approached by Wohl to take part in the scheme and recorded parts of it for The Daily Beast.
The Daily Beast reports:
Kelly appears to be the only one who took the bait. In his latest explanation of what happened, the Michigan college student said that Wohl reached out to him via Signal on April 25 after the two had interacted over Instagram. Wohl then pitched him on a plan to take down Buttigieg by coming up with a story that the South Bend mayor had sexually assaulted him during a visit he took to D.C. in February. Kelly conceded that no such visit ever occurred. In fact, he’d never been to D.C. before.
Wohl, according to Kelly, said the scheme was part of a “‘task force’ set up by the Donald Trump administration.” There is, however, no evidence of the administration’s involvement; a request for comment from the White House was not returned.
Kelly said that Wohl and his similarly infamous cohort, lobbyist Jack Burkman, booked him a flight from Michigan to Baltimore. From there, they drove to Burkman’s home in Arlington where Wohl showed him a draft of a statement detailing the bogus accusations against Buttigieg.
Kelly expressed concerns, but later Burkman told him he was a “‘star’ and people are eating me up.”
“Burkman and Wohl tried to calm him down by promising to purchase ‘any house I wanted’ and insisting that his family would ‘get over it,’” Kelly says.
As Kelly’s regret and protestations grew, “the duo turned to intimidation, telling him that backing out and leaving was ‘not an option.’”
Kelly says the post was made without his permission and denied writing it.
“Jack Burkman may have promised me a lavish lifestyle, but at a price that would cost me the two most important things to me: honesty and integrity,” Kelly now says. “Had I gone forward with this despicable scheme they concocted, I would have lost both of those things and became another one of their useless pawns.”
Asked about the allegation on Monday, Buttigieg called it made up. “It’s not going to throw us,” he said. “Politics can be ugly sometimes but you have to face that when you’re in presidential politics.”