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Judge Denies US Senator's Bid to Withdraw Sex Charge Plea


U.S. Senator Larry Craig says he will stay in office, even though a judge rejected his bid to withdraw his guilty plea in a sex sting case.

The Idaho Republican posted a message on his Web site saying he was disappointed with the judge's ruling and will continue to explore his legal options.

The judge in the midwestern state of Minnesota Thursday ruled that Craig's guilty plea was accurate and voluntary.

Craig was arrested in June at a Minneapolis airport for allegedly soliciting an undercover policeman for sex in a men's bathroom.

Craig, a conservative who has spoken out against gay rights, including same-sex marriage, has maintained his innocence.

He said today he will not seek re-election when his term ends in 2009.

The married Idaho lawmaker originally had said he was going to resign by the end of last month. But he then said he would stay at least until he found out whether he could withdraw his guilty plea.

Craig has denied accusations that he is gay and said he pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct in the hopes of making the case "go away."

Craig's statement today said one reason for staying on was to clear his name in the Senate Ethics Committee, and also because he had accumulated enough seniority to have important committee assignments valuable to his state.

He served five terms in the House of Representatives before being elected to the Senate in 1990.