Italian Lawmaker Steps Down Over Sex Scandal

A prominent opposition politician embroiled in a scandal over his encounter with a transsexual prostitute resigned his high-profile job Tuesday as head of the region that includes Rome.

Piero Marrazzo has said he made mistakes and that he had been living a "nightmare" since the encounter in July in a Rome apartment. Four policemen have been arrested for allegedly attempting to blackmail the 51-year-old Marrazzo, who is married and has three daughters.

"My personal condition of extreme suffering makes my stay at the helm of the region not longer useful for the Lazio citizens," Marrazzo said in a statement announcing his resignation.

He said the resignation was "final and irrevocable." He also maintained that he had always acted for the good of his citizens, "whatever personal mistakes I may have committed in my private life."

In previous statements, he had admitted to "weaknesses."

Marrazzo had already handed over his responsibilities to his deputy last weekend, after the scandal broke.

Media reports say there is a video evidence, though the video has not been publicly seen.

Marrazzo said he wrote three checks to the alleged blackmailers, although they weren't cashed. He said he did not go to the police out of fear and shame.

The scandal was the latest blow to the already weak Democratic Party, the main opposition force to Premier Silvio Berlusconi's conservatives. Marrazzo has suspended his membership in the party, but the scandal has overshadowed the election of a new party leader in a primary vote this weekend.

Media reports said Tuesday that Marrazzo, seeking to drop out of the public eye, wanted to spend some time at a Benedictine monastery or some other religious institute near the capital. His whereabouts were not made public.