JEFFERSON CITY — A St. Louis-area lawmaker resigned Tuesday from the Missouri House just hours after pleading not guilty to felony charges of deviate sexual assault.
Republican Scott Muschany waived formal arraignment Tuesday in Cole County Circuit Court, where he was indicted by a grand jury last month. The 42-year-old lawmaker from Frontenac is accused of having "deviate sexual intercourse" on May 17 without the consent of the other person, who is identified in court documents only by the initials "B.R.S."
Muschany had announced three days after the alleged crime that he would not run this fall for a third House term.
In a letter to House Speaker Rod Jetton later Tuesday, Muschany announced he was resigning his seat to focus on his family and legal defense.
"It is especially important now that I fully devote my time to the care of my family and my efforts to prove my innocence from false allegations which have recently been made against me," Muschany wrote.
In the days following his indictment, Muschany had been urged to resign by House Republican leaders as well as by Gov. Matt Blunt and Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, both Republicans.
The resignation came one day before the legislature was convening for its annual veto session.
A spokesman for Jetton said the speaker had no immediate comment.
Speaker Pro Tem Bryan Pratt, R-Blue Springs, said he was pleased with Muschany's decision given the nature of the allegations and the "extreme distraction" to the House.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has reported that Muschany's indictment involves the 14-year-old daughter of a state employee who had worked for the House. The newspaper reported that police started investigating after the girl's father called the state's child abuse hot line.
Deviate sexual assault is a Class C felony under Missouri law, punishable by up to seven years in prison. Muschany's next court date is a hearing scheduled for Oct. 27.
Muschany was first elected to the House from the 87th District in 2004 and re-elected in 2006. He took the seat of term-limited House Speaker Catherine Hanaway, who is now the U.S. attorney in St. Louis.
Muschany was a state-licensed foster parent from May 2001 to December 2004 and from December 2005 to November 2006. He voluntarily withdrew his license about 20 months ago.
In announcing in May that he would not seek re-election, Muschany said he wanted to spend more time with his wife and sons. He said he had made the decision in January but kept it quiet for months so as not to diminish his effectiveness in the legislature.
During an interview with The Associated Press after removing his name from the ballot, Muschany said, "There's no scandal as far as I'm aware of. My wife and I just decided it wasn't the right time to continue."