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(NEW YORK POST) – A congressional aide in Illinois was fired after being caught by cops shirtless in a car with a 17-year-old boy who said they were having a consensual sexual encounter after hooking up on Grindr.
Dominic “Nick” Provenzano, 56, was fired Monday as deputy district director for US Rep. Randy Hultgren, a spokesman for the congressman told the Chicago Tribune. The termination came just days after Hultgren’s office learned of the Oct. 21 incident in McHenry, where an officer found a shirtless Provenzano and the teen inside an SUV with its lights off parked on a dead-end street.
Provenzano, who was sitting in the driver’s seat, told the officer that he and the boy — who was clothed — were merely “hanging out” and “talking about life,” adding that he removed his shirt because he was hot, according to the police report obtained by the Tribune.
Provenzano, a Republican Party veteran in McHenry County with ties to several religious organizations, said their interaction was “consensual in nature” and that he thought the boy was 18 years old. He also noted that he did not have a position of authority over the teen and that “nothing of value was exchanged” between the two, according to the police report.
The teen later told police that he had sexual contact with Provenzano in the car. No criminal charges were filed, in part because the age of consent in Illinois is 17 and the teen admitted that he “willingly consented” to the encounter after connecting with Provenzano on Grindr, a dating app popular with gay men.
“There was no allegation of force … and (Provenzano) did not have any special relationship, such as a teacher or family member, that might support charges,” State’s Attorney Patrick Kenneally told the newspaper.
Provenzano, who refused a request by cops to go to a police station for additional questioning, later hired an attorney who told authorities that he would cooperate in an investigation into the incident. His attorney declined to comment when reached by the Tribune.
Attempts by The Post to reach Provenzano, who started working with Hultgren in 2013, were unsuccessful. A man who answered a cellphone listed to him hung up when asked for comment regarding the incident early Thursday. Provenzano has also worked for a Christian retreat center in McHenry County and held a position on the board of the McHenry County Catholic Prayer Breakfast, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Jameson Cunningham, Hultgren’s communications director, said staffers learned of the incident last week. Provenzano was immediately placed on leave prior to being fired Monday, he said. A request for additional comment from Cunningham on Thursday was not immediately returned.