All he wanted, he said, was for the facts to come out.

Well, now a lot of them have.

And it's hard to feel much sympathy for Jack Latvala.

Following a month-long investigation, a retired judge has determined there is sufficient evidence to move forward with a sexual harassment complaint against the longtime state senator from Clearwater.

And that's not the worst of it.

The special master's report includes an allegation that Latvala was willing to look favorably on legislation in exchange for sexual favors from a former lover who was working as a lobbyist.

A week ago, the question was whether Latvala had behaved inappropriately.
Now, prosecutors may inquire whether he behaved criminally.

If he so chooses, Latvala deserves a chance to defend himself. But, after reading through the 33-page report, it's hard to imagine a scenario where he emerges exonerated and unscathed.

For Latvala, here's issue No. 1:

What the special master says, basically, is that he believes Senate staffer Rachel Perrin Rogers.

He believes her when she says Latvala made unwelcome comments. And he believes her when she says Latvala touched her inappropriately on several occasions.

On its own, that's a problem. A pretty serious problem.

Latvala has denied touching anyone "against their will'' but there seems to be enough evidence to reasonably conclude that his behavior crossed the line. Latvala may interpret it differently, and believe he was simply being friendly or flirtatious, but he has to know better.

At the very least, I would think this finding would lead to some sort of censure.

But then there's issue No. 2:

An unnamed former lobbyist says she had a relationship with Latvala that was, at times, intimate while he was single. She also alleges he continued to be sexually suggestive after getting married.

Even worse, she said Latvala "intimated … that if she engaged in sexual acts or allowed him to touch her body in a sexual manner he would support particular legislative items for which she was lobbying.''

The report also says there are text messages from Latvala that seem to validate her claims.

If the allegation is true, that's a pretty damning example of corruption.
Accordingly, there can be no gray areas on this one. There can be no claims of a misunderstanding. Latvala not only needs to deny this unequivocally, but also convincingly.

Otherwise, a resignation is probably in his best interests.

There was a time when Latvala was certain that the truth was on his side.

That the evidence would show he could be a rogue, or even a bit of a sleaze, but that he never intentionally harassed anyone.

As a defense goes, it was hardly inspiring.

But he did have a long, exceptional career in his favor, and he had many good friends and supporters who seemed willing to stand by his side.

Yet, if he cannot credibly refute the allegations of the former lobbyist, that support will quickly vanish. And, just as he was presumably blindsided by this latest allegation, Latvala has to worry about what other revelations will emerge if he continues to fight.

If he is guilty of corruption, he deserves whatever fate the criminal justice system has for him.

If he is completely innocent, he deserves a chance to reclaim his reputation and hold on to his seat.

And if the truth lies somewhere between, it's time for Jack Latvala to walk away.