Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick personally approved a cover-up of explosive text messages between him and his top aide Christine Beatty as part of an $8.4-million trial settlement last year, according to documents the city agreed Thursday to make public.
As part of the deal, the records show, the text messages were stashed temporarily in a safe deposit box across from City Hall. Each side got a key, but agreed not to open the box outside the presence of the other. Kilpatrick was to take possession of the messages only after the payout was made to the three former police officers who had sued.
City officials had denied the existence of secret documents since October, when the Free Press first requested them under Michigan's Freedom of Information Act. The paper wanted to know more about why Kilpatrick suddenly agreed to settle the lawsuits brought by the cops who claimed they were retaliated against because of their connections to an investigation of the mayor's security team -- a probe they said would have exposed Kilpatrick's affair with Beatty.
The key record that came to light Thursday, when attorneys for the city said they would no longer oppose its concealment, is a Nov. 1 document marked "Confidential Agreement."