Jeff Parish President Mike Yenni, addressing charges he sent an "improper text" to a 17-year-old boy.
Jefferson Parish President Mike Yenni should resign. Period. No delays, no excuses, no time off with his family to pray over it. If you want to pray for someone, pray for the young man Yenni was sexting while the kid was still in high school — and for both their families.
Yenni has admitted sending “an improper text” to a 17-year-old. “Improper” is a charitable self-description of Yenni’s behavior. It was at best grotesquely inappropriate and at worst illegal under federal law. According to WWL-TV’s David Hammer, the FBI is looking into the matter.
The age of sexual consent is 17 in Louisiana, so apparently there was no violation of state law when, according to Hammer (who interviewed the young man, now age 19), Yenni met the young man in a mall bathroom, gave him designer underwear, kissed him and later texted him saying he wanted to have sex with him. Under federal law, sending sexual texts to someone under 18 is a crime. The sexting ended when the young man blocked Yenni’s calls in June, according to Hammer’s reports.
Yenni has declined interview requests and skipped a Jefferson Parish Council meeting after Hammer broke the story last week. He instead issued a videotaped statement:
“Last summer I was old enough to know better, but I guess I was still young enough to do something stupid. I chose to send an improper text to a young man. I won’t go into details out of respect for the rights and privacy of all parties. I made a bad decision. I regret my actions. I apologize to the families involved and anyone who I embarrassed, especially my own family and the people of Jefferson.
“Now I will work everyday to prove that good people can rise from a bad decision. I want to reassure the citizens of Jefferson that I never abused or misused my powers as a public official. And I’m certainly not afraid of the future, because I’m smart enough never to repeat the past.”
Yenni’s response is wrong on so many levels it almost defies enumeration. First, the now-40-year-old Yenni was not “young enough to do something stupid” when he pursued a 17-year-old. Teenagers and college frat boys can use the “I was young and stupid” excuse, not parish presidents. Second, having admitted to the texting, albeit in vague terms, Yenni should have sought advice from a good lawyer, not a PR consultant.
Third, Yenni asserts that he never abused his office, yet the young man told Hammer that Yenni offered him a job so they could be near each other. Fourth, Yenni’s vow to work his way out of this shows him to be almost clinically obtuse.