Former U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Randall Tobias withdrew yesterday as the commencement speaker for the Indiana University School of Law at Indianapolis, telling the school's interim dean he did not want his presence to be a "distraction."
Tobias resigned last Friday from the State Department after he confirmed he had been a customer of the escort service run by the so-called D.C. Madam, Jeane Palfrey, who is charged by federal prosecutors with running a large-scale prostitution ring in Washington.
Tobias told ABC News he used the service for massages but did not engage in sexual activities with the women.THE BLOTTER RECOMMENDS
Law school students were notified yesterday about Tobias' withdrawal in an e-mail obtained by ABC News from IUPUI interim dean Susanah Mead.
In the three-paragraph message, Mead told students that Tobias "called me yesterday to discuss his thoughts about whether his participation could be a distraction, given current events."
Mead said Tobias "indicated that he did not want anything to detract from this very important day for you and your families and therefore he has decided that it would be best if he did not participate in the day's activities."
Tobias' withdrawal as the law school's commencement speaker was first reported by the Indianapolis Star.
Last Thursday Tobias told ABC News he had several times called the Pamela Martin and Associates escort service "to have gals come over to the condo to give me a massage."
Tobias, who is married, said there had been "no sex" and that recently he had been using another service "with Central Americans" to provide massages.
Tobias' private cell number was among thousands of numbers listed in the telephone records provided to ABC News by Palfrey.
Palfrey maintains she ran a sexual fantasy business that was legal and that if any of the women who were working for her had sex, they did so in violation of her rules and without her knowledge.
Tobias is a former head of Eli Lilly and Co. Before he was appointed by Bush last year to a newly created job at the State Department to oversee most U.S. foreign assistance, Tobias served as Bush's first AIDS czar. In that post, he promoted abstinence and faithfulness to help prevent the global spread of AIDS.
Indiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard instead will speak to the graduating students on May 13, according to Mead's e-mail.