PORTLAND, Ore. – A state senator who has been a vocal critic of former Gov. Neil Goldschmidt (search) said she was the source for a local newspaper's story revealing he sexually abused a 14-year-old girl when he was Portland mayor in the 1970s.
State Sen. Vicki Walker (search) said she herself was the victim of sexual abuse as a child and teenager and was angered by efforts to cover up the abuse after she learned about it.
She said she chose not to reveal her role when the alternative weekly newspaper Willamette Week broke the story in early May.
As the weekly was preparing to publish the story, Goldschmidt admitted to The Oregonian that he had sex with the 14-year-old while he was Portland mayor. He also resigned from the State Board of Higher Education and the board of a company trying to take over Portland General Electric Co. (search)
"I didn't want to get in the way of the story," Walker told The Associated Press.
"I really wanted to say something early on, and I wasn't going to lie about it if a reporter ever asked," she said. "But, gee whiz, nobody asked."
At Walker's request, Willamette Week revealed her role in its Wednesday edition.
Walker said she asked to be identified because she felt the emphasis had shifted away from the abuse and Goldschmidt's victim, and toward the damage done to his career and reputation, along with the reputations of other political leaders.
In a note preceding the story, Editor Mark Zusman said, "It is highly unusual for this or any newspaper to reveal a confidential source."
Zusman said a court document provided by Walker opened a two-month investigation "that led to other public documents in several Oregon counties and Seattle and, ultimately, to interviews with more than four dozen people, from here to Nevada to Turkey."
In its Wednesday edition, Willamette Week said Walker became involved after Phil Stanford, a columnist for The Portland Tribune, another local newspaper, called her to say he had a court document he believed was linked to Goldschmidt and the possible abuse of a teenage girl.
Walker, who like Goldschmidt is a Democrat, said she had been approached because she had become a critic of SAIF Corp. (search), the state-owned workers' compensation insurance provider, which was paying Goldschmidt more than $1 million in lobbying fees.
Walker eventually gave the partial court document to Willamette Week.
"It's one thing to make mistakes as politicians," Walker said. "But Neil's wasn't just a mistake. It was a crime. And it was an even bigger crime because he covered it up for 30 years."
The document was a request filed in Washington County Circuit Court to establish a conservatorship to manage legal affairs for a young woman. It did not identify the woman or mention Goldschmidt by name but it indicated her attorney was planning to file a lawsuit against someone for injuries suffered from 1975 to 1978.
Stanford said he found the document after he decided to follow up on persistent rumors he had overheard. He said he had no hard feelings about the story winding up in another paper, because he hadn't been able to confirm the link between the document and Goldschmidt.