Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick exchanged romantic and sexually oriented text messages with a top aide, contradicting their denials in court that they had romantic ties, the Detroit Free Press reports.

In a story on its Web site Wednesday night, the newspaper quotes from exchanges between Kilpatrick and chief of staff Christine Beatty. Kilpatrick issued a statement Wednesday night saying the messages "reflect a very difficult period in my personal life."

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Last summer, Kilpatrick and Beatty testified in a police whistleblower lawsuit and denied any sexual or romantic ties in 2002-03.

Mike Stefani, a lawyer for the officers, asked Beatty if she and Kilpatrick were "either romantically or intimately involved with each other" during the period covered by the case.

"No," she replied.

Stefani asked Kilpatrick if he was "romantically involved with Christine Beatty" in 2002-03.

"No," he replied.

At another point in his testimony, Kilpatrick expressed anger about claims of an affair between him and Beatty.

"I think it was pretty demoralizing to her — you have to know her — but it's demoralizing to me as well," the mayor said. "My mother is a congresswoman. There have always been strong women around me. My aunt is a state legislator. I think it's absurd to assert that every woman that works with a man is a whore.

"I think it's disrespectful not just to Christine Beatty but to women who do a professional job that they do every single day. And it's also disrespectful to their families as well."

But the Free Press said it examined about 14,000 text messages on Beatty's city-issued pager from two months in 2002 and two months in 2003 and found many examples of such ties.

Kilpatrick is married, and Beatty was married at the time.

"I'm madly in love with you," Kilpatrick wrote on Oct. 3, 2002.

"I hope you feel that way for a long time," Beatty replied. "In case you haven't noticed, I am madly in love with you, too!"

On Oct. 16, 2002, Kilpatrick wrote Beatty: "I've been dreaming all day about having you all to myself for 3 days. Relaxing, laughing, talking, sleeping and making love."

In a statement released by his office Wednesday night, Kilpatrick said: "It is profoundly embarrassing to have these extremely private messages now displayed in such a public manner.

"My wife and I worked our way through these intensely personal issues years ago. I would now ask that the public and the media respect the privacy of my wife and children and of Christine Beatty and her children at this deeply painful moment for our families."

Wayne County prosecutor's spokeswoman Maria Miller declined comment on the legal implications of the report. Conviction of lying under oath could bring up to 15 years' imprisonment.

When asked if the prosecutor's office would open an investigation into possible perjury, Miller said: "We have not received anything from anyone. Other than that, we have no comment."

In the civil case, a Wayne County jury awarded $6.5 million to two former police officers in the lawsuit against the city and Kilpatrick.

The jury said Kilpatrick and the city unlawfully dismissed two officers — Gary Brown and Harold Nelthrope. The men claimed they suffered after looking into alleged wrongdoing within Kilpatrick's security unit.

The events happened in Kilpatrick's first four-year term. He was elected to a second term in November 2005.

The Free Press didn't explain exactly how it obtained the text messages, but said it was outside a lawsuit it filed to get all records related to the settlement the city reached with the two officers. The newspaper said it cross-referenced the text messages with the mayor's private calendar and credit card records from that period to verify events in some messages.