Councilman Dr. Mark Whitaker speaks out for first time since being indicted on 20 charges

PORTSMOUTH, Va. - Monday night News 3 heard from Portsmouth Councilman Dr. Mark Whitaker for the first time since he was indicted.

Whitaker thanked his supporters, but wouldn’t say much on the charges of forgery, check fraud, and identify fraud he is currently facing.

Councilman Mark Whitaker

Walking into a budget meeting on the 6th floor of City Hall in Portsmouth, he stopped briefly to make a statement surrounding the 20 charges he is facing.

"I know there is a time and a season for everything and this is not an appropriate arena or forum for me to address on the advice of my counsel. I don't want you to think that I'm disrespecting the media," said Whitaker, "I would like to take this opportunity to thank all my supporters. I've been receiving support from throughout the community, across the region, throughout the state and the nation, encouraging me and supporting me 100%."

Whitaker was indicted last Thursday.

The charges surround allegations of the misuse of money at New Bethel Baptist Church in 2013 and 2014.

Whitaker’s dad is the head pastor and he is the assistant pastor, according to the church website.

The investigation was launched by the Portsmouth Sheriff’s Office, Department of Treasury, and the National Credit Bureau.

Sheriff Bill Watson stressed Monday the investigation was not politically motivated and that it’s based on alleged criminal behavior.

Whitaker wouldn't comment on whether he thought the charges were politically motivated but said he is innocent.

"I’m going to address issues further in the future but this is not the arena," said Whitaker.

Whitaker's lawyer said he has absolutely no plans to step down from his position on council.

Click here to read Whitaker's entire statement.

Related:

Portsmouth City Council member says he’s innocent after indictment