Stockton, California Mayor Anthony Silva has pleaded not guilty to charges of playing strip poker with a group of minors.
Back at the start of August Silva was hit with a string of charges relating to an alleged game of strip poker that took place at summer camp back in 2015.
The Mayor’s Youth Camp, which is organized by Silva, is a popular summer retreat for children in the Northern California area, but the recent accusations have cast a huge shadow over it.
After images and audio recordings were found on his phone, Silva was charged with a string of offenses.
On top of a felony charge linked to the recording confidential communications, Silva has been forced to defend himself against a selection of misdemeanors that include: endangering children, furnishing minors with alcohol and encouraging illegal behavior from a minor.
Silva’s first line of defense was to question the timing of the charges. According to his attorney Mark Reichel, there has been a recent campaign to remove Silva from his position as mayor.
“The timing is very suspect, and seems like the work of a political clique in Stockton,” said Reichel.
After releasing this statement, Silva and his attorney have formally denied the charges in court on August 18.
As well as claiming that everyone involved in the game was 18 years old, Silva echoed his earlier statement that the timing appears a little too convenient.
“Unlike other politicians, I say that I am human. I am far, far from perfect. I am innocent of these charges. The timing is extremely suspicious,” Silva told the court.
However, just as Silva was intent on defending his innocence, the prosecution was intent on disproving it with a recording of the incident in question.
Although the recording doesn’t contain any visuals, a player in the game can be heard saying that he is “butt naked” and should be “getting paid” for this.
At this point, Silva defends the situation and tries to reassure the players that everything is ok.
“Listen, it’s an amateur thing for Vegas. You have to turn it in, you know?” said Silva.
Although the 19-second recording doesn’t give much away, there is a clear indication that people in the room were naked.
The case will now hinge on whether those people were around the age of 16 and whether or not Silva coerced them into taking off their clothes.
Following an initial hearing on August 17, Silva is now due to return to court on September 7 when he’ll be cross-examined about the events that took place last summer.