ORLANDO — The prosecutor who gained national attention as a key player in the unsuccessful murder prosecution of Casey Anthony said Sunday that he committed no crime and never followed through with an affair on the cheating website, Ashley Madison.
Jeff Ashton, the state attorney for Orange and Osceola counties in Central Florida, said he wouldn't resign his post.
Ashton choked up several times during a news conference while publicly apologizing to his wife, their three children and his four adult children from previous marriages. He wouldn't say what impact the revelation has had on his marriage.
"While I indulged my curiosity about the site, it never went beyond that," Ashton said. "They were incredibly stupid choices. I ask the public's forgiveness for my shortcomings but those shortcomings have had absolutely no impact on the performance of my official duties."
Ashton said he signed up for the site two years ago because he was curious. But when asked why he never used it to cheat, he said he just couldn't go through with it.
He used his personal laptop on an office wireless network that is available to anyone who is at the courthouse complex in downtown Orlando, Ashton said.
The veteran prosecutor was at the center of the case against Anthony, who was acquitted in 2011 of the murder of her 2-year-old daughter three years earlier. Back in 1987, Ashton was the first prosecutor in the nation to introduce DNA-based evidence in a case. Ashton first joined the State Attorney's Office in 1981.
The prosecutor isn't the only Florida elected official who has had to acknowledge using Ashley Madison. Last Friday, state Rep. Ritch Workman said in a statement that he had clicked on the site three years ago when he was single. Workman said he never met anyone from the site.
Ashton called the news conference after the East Orlando Post online newsletter revealed that he had been on Ashley Madison. Ashton said he regretted giving ammunition to those who oppose him and said he hopes his three decades of service outweighs his transgression.
"Today, I'm not very proud of myself," Ashton said. "The post may have been political motivated but they had every right to do it. I did something incredibly stupid and I should have been called on it."