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Hurricane city councilman accused of soliciting a minor

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A Hurricane city councilman was arrested Wednesday after he allegedly sent sexually explicit text messages to a 13-year-old girl.

Scott Cunningham, 31, of Hurricane, was charged with two felony counts of soliciting a minor via computer.

Cunningham resigned as a city councilman after his arrest on Wednesday, Hurricane Mayor Scott Edwards said.

State Police Cpl. T.M. Divita interviewed a 13-year-old girl on June 14 about Cunningham sending explicit text messages to her phone, according to a criminal complaint filed in Putnam County Magistrate Court.

Divita took the phone to the State Police digital forensic lab for review. Investigators found detailed text conversations between Cunningham and the girl on May 11 and 12, according to the criminal complaint.

Cunningham is friends with the girl's family and knows she's underage, the complaint states.

In one conversation on May 11, Cunningham asked the girl if she is 11 years old and the girl replied, "I'm 13," the criminal complaint said.

Cunningham then allegedly asked the girl to take naked photos of herself and said she could touch him if she promised not to tell anyone, the criminal complaint said.

Cunningham was arraigned Wednesday in Putnam County Magistrate Court and released on a $15,000 bond.

Cunningham was elected to Hurricane City Council in June 2011 as a member of the Citizens Party. He resigned from city council at about 3 p.m. Wednesday, Edwards said.

The mayor said the nature of the allegations makes him angry and he's glad Cunningham resigned.

"I hate to have a black eye on the city. The city's been doing so well," he said. "This is not something that reflects on the city or the council."

Phone calls to Cunningham's home were not returned. A number listed on the city of Hurricane's website no longer belongs to him.

Cunningham worked as a project engineer for Pray Construction Company in Scott Depot, according to his campaign website. A secretary for Pray Construction said President Mark Grigsby did not know about the arrest and declined to comment Wednesday.Reach Travis Crum at travis.crum@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5163.


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