Dinesh D'Souza, the former president of a New York Christian college who recently came under fire after it was revealed that he was engaged to a woman while still married to his wife of 20 years, released an article to his website on Wednesday declaring he did not have an affair.
In the article, D'Souza claims World Magazine didn't present all of the facts when it reported that he and his fiancée, Denise Odie Joseph II, stayed in a hotel room together while in town for an apologetics conference in Spartanburg, S.C., in late September. D'Souza and his wife, Dixie, have been separated for two years but are still legally married.
"I met Denise three months ago. We are not and have not been having an affair. Nor did we share a hotel room in Charlotte," wrote D'Souza. The original report by the magazine quoted Alex McFarland, one of the conference's organizers, who said D'Souza admitted to him that he and Joseph stayed in the same room together, though D'Souza claimed "nothing happened" between them.
Tony Beam, who was also mentioned in the magazine's article and was another one of the conference's organizers, escorted D'Souza and Joseph between the airport, the conference and the hotel.
Beam told The Christian Post on Thursday that Joseph's arrival with D'Souza was somewhat unexpected to the event's organizers – they did not make plans for an extra hotel room for her. But D'Souza's assistant told Beam's assistant they would take care of it. Beam had forgotten that D'Souza was married at first, so upon their arrival he didn't question D'Souza when he introduced Joseph as his fiancée.
He later drove the couple from the conference to the hotel, and was present to make sure the check-in process went smoothly. He says they only checked into one room, though he acknowledged that Joseph could have possibly checked into another room later that evening.
"It was one room. In my presence, there was not a discussion about another room," said Beam.
He arrived early to pick the couple up the next morning. When he had the hotel clerk call up to D'Souza's room, the teller told him, "They said, 'Give us 10 minutes.'"
"I did not see them go into a room together; I did not see them coming out of a room together. All of this took place in the lobby," Beam emphasized.
He later contacted Alex McFarland, another one of the conference's organizers, to tell him what he had witnessed because, though he hadn't witnessed them sharing the same room, he was suspicious of the couple.
McFarland sounded surprised, said Beam, because he knew D'Souza was married. McFarland called D'Souza to ask him whether or not he had stayed in the same hotel room as Joseph, and, according to World Magazine's report, D'Souza admitted that he had.
But D'Souza says McFarland was "fronting for" World Magazine's reporter, Warren Smith, to fish for information regarding what happened that night. D'Souza claims he never told McFarland that he and Joseph stayed in the same room, and that either McFarland or Smith lied in their account of the conversation.
"I clearly told McFarland that Denise and I stayed in separate rooms," wrote D'Souza. "McFarland knew he didn't have what he wanted, because he subsequently called me back and asked me again. I realized McFarland may be fronting for Smith, so I told him I didn't have any further comment. I'm not sure whether McFarland is lying or Smith is lying, but one of them made up the quotation attributed to me that we stayed in the same room but 'nothing happened.' This is pure libel."
McFarland provided CP with a statement Wednesday but declined to comment further. "Although I had no knowledge of Dinesh's personal life, none of us is above reproach and we all need a Savior. I will continue to pray for him and help point him toward living the godly life he's always lived."
D'Souza also sought legal advice to make sure he could legally be engaged before being divorced, and said he and Joseph were "trying to do the right thing."
"I had no idea that it is considered wrong in Christian circles to be engaged prior to being divorced, even though in a state of separation and in divorce proceedings," said D'Souza. "Obviously I would not have introduced Denise as my fiancé at a Christian apologetics conference if I had thought or known I was doing something wrong."
While Beam says it is possible that D'Souza was genuinely unaware of this general Christian belief, he was still surprised by the statement.
"It certainly surprises me," said Beam. "I mean I certainly would think that if you've been in conservative evangelical circles ... that you would, at some point, kind of pick up on the idea that announcing an engagement to a woman when you are still legally married to another woman would be a problem."
Glenn Stanton, marriage expert and director for family formation studies at Focus on the Family, told CP that the separation of a struggling married couple can be a good thing – it gives them time to think and work on their issues – but says "it's not a good idea" to become romantically involved before a marriage has officially ended.
"It's not honoring to the marriage that tragically has died, and not honoring to the spouse, the children of that marriage, and not even honoring to the heart of the individual who is going through the divorce ... It's not wise from really any perspective," said Stanton.
Although D'Souza says he can be legally engaged and married at the same time, Stanton says the spiritual marriage covenant is still in effect.
"It's disappointing that he was interested in the legal standpoint but not in the Christian standpoint. Legally, that may be no problem ... but, in essence, when you get engaged before your marriage is actually ended, you are on the on-ramp to bigamy," said Stanton.
Stanton, who recognized it would not legally be considered bigamy unless D'Souza tried to marry Joseph before his divorce is finalized, described being in such a relationship as "attitudinal bigamy."
Since the controversy began, D'Souza has suspended his engagement with Joseph. He filed for divorce on Oct. 4, several days after the conference ended, but says he had been working with attorneys on the filing process two weeks before the actual filing date.
D'Souza and his wife of 20 years, Dixie, have been separated for two years. The controversy with Joseph has led to his resignation as president of The King's College in New York. Still, Stanton says, there is hope, however unlikely, for D'Souza to reconcile his relationship with his wife.
"There's always hope for reconciliation," said Stanton. "I mean, Jesus raised people from the dead."
In addition to his former role as college president, D'Souza is also the best-selling author of What's So Great About Christianity and The Roots of Obama's Rage. He is also the co-director and star of the popular political documentary, "2016: Obama's America."