Former governor disputes dead sex abuse victim's claim

Former governor disputes dead sex abuse victim's claim
Neil Goldschmidt in a 1978 photograph from The Associated Press

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A woman sexually abused by Neil Goldschmidt, former governor of Oregon and mayor of Portland, said before she died that the abuse began earlier and lasted years longer than he has admitted, the Oregonian newspaper reported Tuesday.

Goldschmidt denied that part of a story written by former Oregonian columnist Marge Boule, who interviewed the woman often after the scandal became public in 2004.

The victim's name was not disclosed. She died last month at age 49 after a serious illness, the newspaper reported.

Goldschmidt acknowledged in 2004 that he had sex with a 14-year-old girl in 1975, when he was Portland's mayor and a rising political star. The statute of limitations at the time barred prosecution more than three years after the commission of a crime.

Boule said the woman's parents were active supporters of Goldschmidt's political career and developed a friendship when he was mayor. That, according to Boule's account of her interviews with the woman, led to a first sexual encounter with Goldschmidt.

The woman told Boule she was in eighth grade when Goldschmidt attended a birthday party for her mother. She said, "He asked if I wanted to play ping pong. We went down (to the basement) and then he said, 'Oh, do you want to come give me a hug?' "

Boule said the woman told her the encounter turned into oral sex, adding she had "never even kissed a boy."

The woman told Boule that sex with Goldschmidt continued throughout his tenure as mayor; his years in Washington, D.C., as U.S. secretary of transportation; the years he worked at Nike; and even into his term as Oregon's governor.

"It lasted until I was 27," she told Boule.

Goldschmidt has told reporters the relationship lasted varying periods of time. At first, in his interview with The Oregonian, he said it lasted nine months. Later, in the same interview, he said "two calendar years." Other news organizations have reported it ended after three years.

On Tuesday, the newspaper printed a statement from Goldschmidt that said he was saddened by the woman's death but that many of her accusations "vary substantially from the truth."

"I wish to express publicly my enormous personal guilt and remorse for the damage I contributed to her young life experiences. The fact that these actions have haunted me since is no punishment for what I did," his statement said.

But he added: "Sadly, it appears that much of her account is fabricated and I can only speculate as to her reasons."

Boule said that over the past five years, the woman called her every few months to check in.

Her life was marked by alcoholism, mental illness and a brutal rape. When she was 27, she said, Goldschmidt helped get her a job at a Seattle law firm. "I was very happy in Seattle," she said. "It was like a new start. I had a beautiful apartment with a view of Elliott Bay."

But just three months after she began her job at the law firm, a man named Jeffrey L. Jacobsen kidnapped and brutally raped her. He was convicted and is now in prison. She moved back to Portland.

She died of undisclosed causes Jan. 16 in a hospice.

 

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.