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Ex-U.S. lawmaker in trouble again, this time in Zimbabwe

FILE - In this Nov. 28, 2012 file photo, former Congressman Mel Reynolds announces that he's joining the increasingly crowded field running for the 2nd District seat vacated by Jesse Jackson Jr. A Zimbabwean immigration official said Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014 that Reynolds had been arrested Monday for allegedly possessing pornographic material and violating immigration laws. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green, File)

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By The Associated Press
Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014, 5:48 p.m.

HARARE, Zimbabwe — Just more than a year ago, former U.S. Rep. Mel Reynolds tried to shed past disgrace with a potent campaign slogan: “Redemption.”

It didn't work then, and now, Reynolds, once a rising star in the Democratic Party whose career collapsed when he was convicted of rape two decades ago, is under arrest again, this time for allegedly possessing pornography and violating immigration laws in Zimbabwe.

Reynolds, who had gained some prominence in Zimbabwe for helping draw investment to hotel projects, was in custody, immigration official Ario Mabika said on Tuesday.

The ex-politician, who lost his seat in Congress almost two decades ago because of the statutory rape conviction, was arrested Monday by police and immigration officials at a Harare hotel, according to the state-controlled newspaper, The Herald. He allegedly brought several Zimbabwean models and other women to his hotel room, where he took photographs and videos.

As Reynolds was being taken to a government vehicle, he demanded that officials give him his mobile phone and laptop computer, according to The Herald, whose reporter arrived at the hotel as the arrest was taking place.

Reynolds reportedly complained that he was not expecting such treatment when he had brought investors to the country. He said he had been to Zimbabwe 17 times and had called for U.S. sanctions to be dropped against President Robert Mugabe and his associates. The sanctions were imposed because of the dire lack of human rights in Zimbabwe.

The Illinois Democrat, once a Rhodes scholar, resigned from his congressional seat in 1995 after he was convicted of having sex with a former campaign worker while she was underage, and then trying to thwart the investigation.

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