By Ron Gregory
CHARLESTON — Legislative lobbyist and attorney Philip Reale has denied allegations against him made by Charleston city officials. In an email to his lobbyist clients, the former Chief of Staff for ex-Governor Gaston Caperton, flatly denies that he propositioned a female during a prostitution sting on the city’s West Side in July.
In the email, made public by one of Reale’s clients, the lobbyist says, “I did not proposition anyone and maintain my innocence throughout this process.”
According to Charleston officials, Reale was charged in a prostitution sting on the city’s West Side. The case became muddled when it appeared that the police officer writing the ticket wrote, “Neale” for Reale’s surname instead of “Reale.” Then, the head of the city’s prostitution sting unit admitted he intentionally omitted Reale’s name from the list of those charged that evening because, he said, Reale was “suicidal.” The officer also said Reale had told the city attorney and him that he was undergoing “treatment.”
Word of the arrest did not come until last week, when newspaper reporters were tipped off to the charges. After learning of that the police had apparently kept Reale’s name from being listed in the sting, Charleston Mayor Danny Jones hastily called a press conference where he labeled the episode as a “mistake” by officers who attempted to hide Reale’s involvement.
Although city officials had dropped the charges against Reale, the Mayor said they would be reinstated, either in municipal or magistrate court.
Jones called the incident “an open-and-shut case” and said written evidence as well as “possible audio evidence” confirmed that Reale propositioned the female.
But Reale flatly denies those charges in his email to clients. Reale’s version of the story follows this narrative, “The incident occurred while I was driving on Charleston’s West Side at around 6:00 that evening. I stopped to help a woman that appeared to be in need of assistance. When I rolled down my window to ask her if she needed help, I was shocked by her proposition. I immediately declined her offer, but she persisted. In my shocked state, I made a nervous, flippant statement. She asked me to follow her to another location. I did not and immediately began direction on my route toward Berry Hills Country Club. Within less than a minute, I was pulled over by Charleston detectives and cited for solicitation.”
Reale continued, “There are some who are trying to say that I received special treatment from the City of Charleston. That’s simply not true and because the Mayor of Charleston isn’t pleased with the way his employees handled the situation, my name is being dragged through the media.”
Reale goes on to dispute the claims that he was “suicidal” which is the reason the city police gave for not listing his name in a press release about the sting. “While I was distressed over the prospects of the alleged incident becoming public, I was certainly not as distraught as described in the (Charleston Daily Mail) article (which reported Reale’s supposed suicide concern). Had I been, there would have been an obligation by the city to secure appropriate care. That did not happen, nor was it suggested or warranted,” Reale wrote.
The lobbyist also denied telling the City Attorney anything about counseling and rehabilitation. “The City Attorney’s reference to my counseling and rehabilitation has no basis in reality. Instead I told him I was undergoing stress management therapy, something I would recommend for everyone,” Reale’s email said.
Mayor Jones had said, during his press conference, that Reale was in a “state of denial” regarding what happened. The Mayor also pointed out that Berry Hills Country Club is located near South Ridge Center off Corridor G. “He must have been taking the scenic route to get there,” Jones said at the time.
Reale asked his clients to stick with him and his family during this period. “We ask at this time that you not draw conclusions from media reports that may contain politically motivated material,” he wrote.