Attorney: Steve Montenegro Was ‘Grooming’ Staffer For A Sexual Relationship

Published: Friday, February 23, 2018 - 9:42am
Updated: Friday, February 23, 2018 - 10:15am
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(Photo by Bret Jaspers - KJZZ)
Attorney Tom Ryan represents Stephanie Holford.

The Arizona Senate staffer who sent a topless photo to Congressional candidate Steve Montenegro released a statement Thursday.

Stephanie Holford was a GOP staffer at the state Senate when she started exchanging messages with Montenegro. He was a state Senator at the time. Holford said eventually she sent him racy photos and they engaged in sexual conversation about them over the social media app Snapchat.

Holford apologized, but her lawyer, Tom Ryan, said the messages show Montenegro was grooming his client for a sexual relationship.

“All these things were intended to slowly but surely break her down,” he said. “If you’re gonna break down a virtuous person, you don’t just walk up and say, ‘Let’s go to bed.’ It’s a process. And that’s what Sen. Montenegro was doing. He was engaging in the process.”

Ryan released the messages to the media along with Holford’s statement. He said text messages and photos were stolen off Holford’s computer by an ex-boyfriend, then leaked to media outlets.

Montenegro released his own statement calling Ryan a “liberal” attorney and saying the allegations were unfounded. Montenegro had previously said his opponents in the Congressional race were behind the release of the texts. Ryan said that claim is false.

Montenegro is married and running for Congress as a devout Christian. Election Day in the primary in Arizona's 8th Congressional District is Tuesday.

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