- Governor Neil Goldschmidt - Oregon Historical Society
- Biography of Oregon political icon Neil Goldschmidt (05/06/2004)
- Statement by Neil Goldschmidt regarding sexual allegations (05/07/2004)
- Goldschmidt Revelation (05/07/2004)
- Neil Goldschmidt Aftermath: Attorney Jeffrey Foote of Jeffrey Foote & Associates, P.C., Calls upon Media to Respect His Client's Privacy (05/07/2004)
- The Goldschmidt Resignation: The ex-governor quits several posts amid sex-abuse allegations (05/07/2004)
- Years building political clout are erased with one confession (05/08/2004)
- Goldschmidt gets little sympathy (05/08/2004)
- Kulongoski's view (05/08/2004)
- Letters (05/09/2004)
- Goldschmidt's shame and his enemies (05/09/2004)
- Secret weighs on a public life (05/09/2004)
- Neil Goldschmidt Beats the Statute of Limitations, Still Remembered as Child Molester (05/26/2009)
- Neil Goldschmidt's sex-abuse victim tells of the relationship that damaged her life
Other cases associated with President Jimmy Carter
|Neil Golschmidt (1969)|
Born in Eugene, Oregon on June 16, 1940, Neil Goldschmidt is the son of Lester H. Goldschmidt and Annette Levin Goldschmidt. After graduating from South Eugene High School, Goldschmidt was student body president at the University of Oregon where he received his B.A. in political science in 1963. He earned a law degree from the University of California's Boalt School of Law in 1967 and was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Portland in 1980. In 1964 he was an intern in the Washington D.C. office of former U.S. Senator Maurine Neuberger of Oregon. In Washington, he was recruited by Allard Lowenstein for voter registration work in the Freedom Summer civil rights campaign in Mississippi in 1964.
A legal aid attorney in Portland from 1967 to 1969, Goldschmidt began his political career as a city commissioner there from 1971 to 1973. A Democrat, he was the youngest mayor of a major U.S. city after becoming mayor of Portland in 1973 at the age of 32. Goldschmidt served as mayor until 1979 when he was named U.S. Secretary of Transportation by President Jimmy Carter. He served in that capacity through January 1981. As secretary of transportation, Goldschmidt authored "U.S. Automobile Industry, 1980," a report to the president. At the end of the Carter Administration, Goldschmidt returned to Oregon where he joined Nike, the running shoe company based in Oregon. Working with Nike from 1981 through December 1985, he became head of its Canadian subsidiary, Nike Canada, in 1986.
In 1986 Goldschmidt entered the Oregon governor's race, which saw him locked with Republican Norma Paulus in one of the state's closest gubernatorial contests in modern times. The campaign was conducted against the backdrop of the state's continuing economic distress and high unemployment. Goldschmidt focused his campaign on a blueprint for Oregon's future, and stressed his role as an innovator while mayor of Portland in the 1970s. Goldschmidt was helped by his support from many businessmen and by his own business experience. He won with 52 percent of the vote. Analysts attributed his victory to his economic program and to his record of cutting crime as mayor of Portland. In office, Goldschmidt called for "an activist state role in the economy." He was willing to place more emphasis on economic growth and a little less on environmental protection, a reversal of state policies of a decade earlier when many state residents feared growth. Goldschmidt supported an end to school closings mandated by excessive property tax levies, claiming that his efforts to promote the state as a good place to live and do business were harmed by such closings. In the area of higher education, he wanted to increase faculty salaries and to improve relations between the academic and business communities.
Although a dynamic, charismatic politician, Goldschmidt chose not to seek re-election to a second term as governor, citing marital difficulties. Another reason for his surprising decision would later come to light, however. In the spring of 2004, Goldschmidt publicly admitted to sexually abusing a fourteen-year-old girl while serving as the mayor of Portland in 1975. He acknowledged that he was worried that his sexual abuse of a minor, a felony in Oregon, would be uncovered, and that this was "certainly a factor" in his decision not to run for a second term as governor.
|Neil Goldschmidt with Jimmy Carter (1990)|
The following statement was issued on Neil Goldschmidt's behalf by the Portland firm Gard and Gerber.
Willamette Week - May 7, 2004
Yesterday, just hours after Willamette Week posted a story detailing its two-month investigation into a sexual relationship between former Gov. Neil Goldschmidt and a 14-year-old girl during the 1970s, Goldschmidt issued a statement to The Oregonian in which he described the relationship as an "affair." The Oregonian also used the phrase repeatedly in its morning edition, including in its headline.
But court documents obtained earlier this year by WW paint a very different picture of the relationship. These documents consistently describe Goldschmidt's behavior as "sexual abuse" and "molestation" that caused detrimental effects long afterwards.
Since Goldschmidt's confession and the appearance of The Oregonian's morning headline, psychologists and representatives of advocacy groups have questioned the use of the word "affair" to describe the abuse, which in Oregon is considered rape.
"You can't say something that is illegal is an 'affair,'" says University of Oregon child psychologist Elizabeth Stormshak. "I can't think of a way that it would be anything other than molestation."
Stormshak claims that the power relationship between a man in his thirties and a 14-year-old girl would make the possibility of informed consent minimal. There's a reason we have decided on a so-called "age of consent," she says.
"We like to think that the time when kids are able to consent comes naturally at age 18," Stormshak says. "You don't need a psychologist to tell you that this is illegal." — Taylor Clark
Thursday, May 6, 2004
Former Gov. Neil Goldschmidt's decision to step down from the state's board of higher education and the Oregon Electric Utility Co. earlier today stunned political observers and friends alike.
|Governor Goldschmidt with Diane Sawyer (1999)|
Goldschmidt did not return repeated calls made to his office this week. Willamette Week understands the timing of the resignation is connected to this newspaper's two-month probe into reports that between 1975 and 1978, while Goldschmidt was mayor of Portland, he had sexual relations with a girl who was 14 years old at the time the relations began.
WW has interviewed more than a dozen people (some spoke on the record; others signed statements but requested anonymity) who said they were told about the relationship.
In Oregon, if an adult has sex with someone under the age of 16, it is considered rape. (According to law-enforcement officials, however, the statute of limitations for prosecution has long since passed.)
Powerful public figures are often the subject of whispering campaigns, rumors and outright lies. But, during the course of WW's investigation, clear evidence emerged of the alleged sexual relationship, as well as a three-decade-long effort to cover it up.
In addition to the statements of the people interviewed, WW has found two separate court records that refer to the relationship, though neither names Goldschmidt. Those documents, along with the interviews, suggest that later in life the woman was deeply troubled by their earlier relationship and, for the past nine years, has been receiving monthly payments from Goldschmidt.
In 1975, Neil Goldschmidt was 35 and three years into his first term as Portland's mayor.
Saying he was mayor, however, is like saying Mozart wrote music. Goldschmidt transformed a parochial backwater into a city of international renown. Pioneer Square, Tom McCall Park and the bus mall-all are products of Goldschmidt's tenure. He cajoled Nordstrom into building downtown and scrapped a freeway through Southeast Portland to Mount Hood, using the money to build light rail instead. "Goldschmidt made the region a national model," says Oregon State University political-science professor Bill Lunch.
|Governor Goldschmidt with President Carter|
Friends say Susan was beautiful, bright and charismatic and had a warm, embracing laugh. She was 14.
According to three sources interviewed by WW, Susan claimed that one evening in 1975, after a dinner party at Susan's parents' home, Goldschmidt began a sexual relationship with the teenager.
At the time, Goldschmidt was married and had two children, ages 6 and 3, for whom Susan babysat. The relationship would last for three years, according to the story she later told friends and lawyers.
No one witnessed these sexual encounters, but over the years Susan and her mother told numerous people about the relationship, and more than a dozen of them retold the story to WW.
These sources knew Susan in different ways at different times. They were friends, boyfriends, work colleagues, roommates and even relatively casual acquaintances. The story they recount is remarkably consistent.
"I believed the story then, and I believe it today," says a former boyfriend who dated Susan in the early '80s and says she often talked openly about the relationship with Goldschmidt.
"She was indiscreet," adds a female friend who knew Susan for more than 10 years. "When she'd had a few drinks, she'd bring up Goldschmidt," says a woman who waitressed with Susan in the mid-'80s.
Among a circle of friends who hung out at downtown bars such as the Virginia Cafe and the Dakota, the relationship was hardly a secret.
"[Susan] talked about Neil Goldschmidt all the time. She'd get drunk and say when she was 14 years old she'd screwed him in hotel rooms," says Sheilah Wilson, who roomed with Susan in the mid '80s. "The story had been around for years and everybody knew about it."
Friends say Susan had a keen intellect, but she rarely worked and, despite intelligence, looks and charm, spent much of the '80s in a downward spiral. "She had more ability and less confidence than anybody I have ever known," says a friend from that time.
In 1988, Susan left Portland for a new start. Soon after the move, she was abducted outside of a clinic at knifepoint and brutally raped. A suspect was soon arrested for the crime. His attorney interviewed Susan, according to court records, and discovered that she had been the victim of "prior sexual assault."
The source for this information was a counseling record in which Susan had talked about the sexual relationship she had from age 14 to 17.
The court record shows that the accused rapist's lawyer wanted to introduce Susan's counseling records into evidence.
Ultimately, the judge in the case refused to allow most of the counseling records into evidence. The rapist was eventually convicted. But some of the information was discussed in court, including clues about the man who sexually abused Susan. "The abuser was a family friend twenty-one years older than [Susan]," the prosecuting attorney told the court. He was "a family friend for many years; was the age of [Susan]'s father; certainly no stranger, according to [Susan]'s mother."
Neil Goldschmidt is 20 years, 10 months and 26 days older than Susan.
In another passage from the court record, the man who abused Susan is a described as someone whom she had "known and trusted."
Immediately after the 1988 rape, Susan began counseling and was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress syndrome.
Over the years, friends say, Susan periodically called Goldschmidt, sometimes in anger, sometimes in desperation.
However, it was not until nearly 20 years after Goldschmidt allegedly first had sex with her that Susan took formal action.
A number of sources say part of the reason she finally stepped forward was the coverage of the sexual-harassment claims against Oregon Sen. Bob Packwood and the willingness of his accusers to tell their stories.
David Slader, a Portland lawyer who has brought sex-abuse cases against the Catholic Church, says that oftentimes it often takes women who have been abused as minors two or three decades to come to terms with their abuse. "In cases where girls have been abused, they often don't come forward until their 30s or 40s," Slader says.
In October 1994, Portland lawyer Doreen Margolin filed an application to be named Susan's conservator in Washington County Circuit Court. (A conservator is similar to a guardian.) Susan's parents were living in Rome then, and according to the application, Susan was "unable to manage her property effectively without assistance."
At the time, Susan possessed no property of value. She had been unemployed for six years and received only a disability stipend, which didn't come close to covering her expenses. Her financial situation was about to change. "The appointment of a conservator is necessary because [Susan] is filing a personal injury lawsuit in relation to her claim for injuries sustained from 1975-1978," Margolin wrote.
According to the court file, two other lawyers were involved in the claim Susan intended to file: Jeffrey Foote, a prominent personal-injury lawyer, and Jana Toran, now TriMet's legal director. Sources say Portland lawyer Ted Runstein represented Goldschmidt.
By 1994, the injury for which Susan was making a claim was nearly 20 years old. But despite the two decades that had passed, Susan's threatened lawsuit brought remarkably fast resolution.
Margolin made her first filing with the court on Oct. 25, 1994. By Dec. 5, her billing records show, she and Foote already had a settlement offer in front of them-one that was good enough to ensure that Susan's personal-injury lawsuit was never filed.
In preparation for filing, Foote, however, did take statements from people who knew Susan, including Wilson, to support the threatened lawsuit.
Because the suit was never filed, the name of the person allegedly responsible for Susan's injury was never stated in the Washington County records. But her boyfriend at the time told WW that Susan often talked about how she was going to get enough money from Goldschmidt to start a bed-and-breakfast on the coast.
Margolin filed an inventory with the court showing that Susan received a settlement of approximately $250,000. After attorneys' fees, she received $30,000 in cash and an annuity, which pays her $1,500 per month for 10 years, beginning in March 1995.
The money came with one large string attached: Payment of the annuity was "contingent on confidentiality agreement," according to court records. That agreement binds Susan, her family and all of the others involved in the settlement. "I heard she got some money and agreed to shut up," a former boyfriend says.
Despite the gag order, friends who saw Susan that summer at the westside apartment complex where she lived say that she told them she'd gotten a quarter-million-dollar settlement from Goldschmidt. "She told us that she wasn't supposed to talk about it, but she talked anyway," says a woman who knew Susan for 15 years.
Neither Margolin, Foote, Toran nor Runstein would comment. When pressed, Foote would only say, "I would suggest you forget about the whole thing."
Today, Susan lives in Nevada. She's married and has a couple of Dalmatians she adores.
Portland Tribune columnist Phil Stanford, who was the first to advance this story beyond unconfirmed rumor, says he talked to Susan in February 2004. Stanford says she told him she was receiving money in connection with a settlement but couldn't talk about it.
In early April, however, when visited by WW reporters, Susan said the sexual relationship with Goldschmidt did not happen. She was abused, she says, but by somebody else. "It was not Neil Goldschmidt," she says. "I have the highest regard for Neil Goldschmidt. He never did a thing to hurt me."
Susan's mother, when contacted overseas by WW, also denied that Goldschmidt was the family friend who abused her daughter, but she would not say who it was.
For the past month, Goldschmidt knew WW was investigating the story of his relationship with Susan. Earlier this week, he did not respond to multiple phone requests for an interview. On Wednesday, WW sent him a letter summarizing the story the paper had prepared and asked for comment.
On Thursday, he announced his resignations.
By JJ Duncan
Zimbio - May 26, 2009
|Governer Neil Goldschmidt - Convicted sex offender|
The sexual abuse went on for 9-months, according to Goldshmidt, in 1975, when he was mayor of Portland. Though the sexual relationship was consensual, sex with a child younger than 16 constitutes 3rd-degree rape in the state of Oregon, and is punishable by up to 5 years in prison. Unfortunately, justice would not be served. Despite Goldschmidt's public admission of guilt, the statute of limitations for the case had run out.
"The pain and damage that I have caused have been with me constantly," he wrote in his letter. "I have known all along that my private apologies and actions, deep and true though they were, would never be enough. I apologize now, publicly and completely."
Goldschmidt's political career ended that day. He resigned from several organizations and he moved all the way to France to avoid living the rest of his life in a state where he had instantly become an infamous villain.
The revelations brought back speculation over Goldschmidt's decision in 1990 not to run for a second term as governor following his divorce from Margie Goldschmidt, who he had been married to since 1965. Many at the time thought skeletons in Goldschmidt's closet might have kept him from running.
By Margie Boule
The Oregonian - Jan. 1, 2011
She was emaciated and looked far older than her 42 years. Her hair was thin, her eyes sunken. Her hands shook; occasionally, her whole body shook.
But she appeared intelligent, well-spoken and quick-witted. She seemed kind.
I was at my desk at The Oregonian, where I was working as a columnist in 2004, when the call came that would lead me to Neil Goldschmidt's victim.
A woman I'd written about a few years earlier was on the line. She had another story for me, she said. Her best friend since childhood was Goldschmidt's victim, and she wanted to tell her story.
I met her for the first time at her friend's house, in Northeast Portland. After several visits she decided she trusted me. She wanted to go public, she said, because the former governor had lied and misled the public about what had happened.
No one but the two of them can know exactly what occurred between Neil Goldschmidt and the woman I interviewed.
At the time I spoke with her, over the course of many visits in Portland and in Las Vegas, where she was living for a time, she clearly was an ill woman, abusing alcohol and taking powerful medications for mental illness.
We conducted our interviews in the mornings, when she was sober and clearheaded. We stopped when she felt she needed a drink.
She was precise, definite and consistent about many parts of her story. But sometimes she was unsure of dates, and a few times she gave different versions of events in her life.
She was choosing to tell her story in detail for the first time, knowing painful facts would be published and that a good many people might not believe her. In fact, some of what she said could not be independently verified and years of alcohol and drugs clearly had taken a toll on her.
But in many conversations over many months, she did not waver on the central details of her story.
She knew people had made up their minds about her, and about the kind of man Neil Goldschmidt had been and was. She knew her story was far different from the story the former governor had told the world.
In a statement released Monday, Goldschmidt said, "Although I am unaware of the exact nature of the article The Oregonian plans to publish, I was presented with a list of accusations that vary substantially from the truth. Sadly, it appears that much of her account is fabricated and I can only speculate as to her reasons."
She knew some people would believe him , not her. They'd believe she was a "mature 14," that it lasted "nine months," that it was an "affair."
She was asking people to consider another possibility. "He can deny all he wants to," she said. "But I know the truth."
She wavered at times about whether to allow her name to be used in the story. My editors and I also questioned whether renewed publicity was in her best interest, given her fragility and her history of suicide attempts. Ultimately, she decided she did not want her name to be published and the paper decided not to print the story.
Some people will be angry that her story finally has been made public today. They will say it's old news, that Goldschmidt was punished enough by the publicity his crimes received seven years ago. But those people should remember: Neil Goldschmidt told his version of this story in 2004.
Her story was different. And from the day I met her, to the day I last spoke with her before she died, she wanted the world to know her side of the story.
Here it is.
In her earliest memory of her abuser, she remembered standing beside him in an elevator. She must have been very young, because she had to reach up to hold his hand.
They were in a hotel, or some other big building. In just a moment he would lead her into a room and a crowd of people would cheer. She couldn't remember why she was by his side on this exciting night -- was it an election night?
But she remembered this: As the elevator descended, the man squeezed her hand. She might have been 7 years old, perhaps 8. But she was old enough to understand she was special. Of all the little girls in the world, she believed, Neil Goldschmidt had chosen her.
In May 2004, Neil Goldschmidt, legendary former mayor of Portland, former U.S. secretary of transportation, former Democratic governor of Oregon, head of the state Board of Higher Education, confessed: He'd had, he told a small group of reporters and editors from The Oregonian, a nine-month "affair" with a teenage girl in the late 1970s. He was trying to get ahead of Willamette Week, which was about to publish information about the abuse that reporter Nigel Jaquiss had uncovered.
Goldschmidt said he felt "guilt and shame," but he talked more that day about his doctors' concerns about his cardiovascular system.
Publications and broadcasts across the state ran stories, often devoting more space or time to Goldschmidt's successes than to his crimes (for they were crimes, felony crimes under laws that existed at the time they were committed, prosecutors said, even though the statute of limitations had expired by the time he admitted what he'd done).
In her home in Las Vegas, his victim read the stories, which friends and relatives had sent from Oregon. There, in print, were all the failures and humiliations of her 40-plus years. There were no descriptions of her talent as a photographer, her extensive vocabulary, her generosity to friends, her love of animals.
The stories made her sound like a throwaway person, she said, a teen who'd been asking for trouble, an ex-con who might have had a hard life even if she hadn't been abused as a child by the most powerful, charismatic man in Oregon.
Years after the headlines stunned Oregonians of every political persuasion, a lot of people may think the revelation is old news. But only half the story has been told. News organizations called it "Neil Goldschmidt's secret." For 30 years, it had been her secret, too.
She'd grown tired of keeping her secret. She wanted to tell the world how her life changed the day Neil Goldschmidt first molested her, and she thought it was love.
She told me she was 13 years old when it began, not 14, not 15. In his statement Monday, Goldschmidt said, "As I read the obituary last week that gave her date of birth, I now know she was 15 when the first sexual encounter happened. It occurred after the November 1976 elections and ended some months later into the following year."
But she said she was quite sure when the first incident occurred, "because it was my mother's birthday."
There was a party that afternoon at her home in Northeast Portland. It wasn't unusual to see the mayor of Portland in her kitchen. Her parents were active supporters of Neil Goldschmidt's political career. Their home was just blocks from the Goldschmidts' house; campaign involvement had evolved into friendship.
After she entered eighth grade, she said, Neil Goldschmidt, then in his mid-30s, began to recommend books to her and engage her in private conversations. She had shed her baby fat. Her long, dark hair was thick. Photographs of her at 13 show a beautiful adolescent.
Then came January of her eighth-grade year, and her mother's birthday party. There was a crowd of adults, including Goldschmidt, at the house. "He asked if I wanted to play pingpong," she said. "We went down (to the basement) and then he said, 'Oh, do you want to come give me a hug?' "
It turned into much more than a hug. It turned into oral sex. She was afraid. She was a virgin, she says. "I'd never even kissed a boy. Far from it."
That day, in those secretive, terrifying, confusing moments in her own basement, a door opened in her childhood. Her awful future rushed in, and the woman she might have become left forever.
To her 13-year-old self, it was terrible and wonderful, confusing and thrilling.
They had sex frequently, she told me. Sometimes the mayor would call the eighth-grader after she got home from school, when her parents were at work. Other times, she said, they'd use secret signals to arrange their meetings.
She would watch from an upstairs window for when his car went by. "Because if the lights blinked," she said, "it meant he was coming in. If they didn't, he was just going home."
She remembered feeling torn. "The attention was flattering. ... Among our social group, he was idolized. He was a golden boy who could do no wrong. ... And he was incredibly charming. He was also very earthy and sweet and cruel. He was lots of different things."
In some ways, he was becoming a mentor. He gave her a book: "Cry, the Beloved Country." He gave her reading lists. He explained city policy issues to her. But the mentoring went further.
He told her how to dress, she said. "He didn't like the way I looked." She began to diet. She loved Neil Goldschmidt, she thought. She wanted to please him.
"But there was always a malevolent underlying current, it seemed," she said. What they did together in private felt secret and dirty. "I'd get these feelings in the pit of my stomach."
She was a child, with a childlike desire for attention. She didn't like the sex very much, she says. But she liked the closeness to this man everyone admired.
And, in a childlike way, she believed him. He told her, she said, that someday he'd divorce his then-wife, Margie, and marry her.
"I was so totally naive ... so stupid," she said. "I may have been a little intellectually precocious, but relationship-wise I was as naive as you get."
She began her freshman year of high school at St. Mary's Academy in downtown Portland.
It was clear she didn't fit in with the other 14-year-olds. But then, she wasn't at school much.
"He'd pick me up by the fountain," a block from the school, "in the black car," she said. "He always had a driver."
After her freshman year, she dropped out of high school. It's painful for her to think what her life might have been like, had she not dropped out. "I had so much potential,"she said. "I was so bright. I loved to read, I loved to learn."
Her adolescence should have been an unfolding. Instead she was afraid. She was lonely. And she was getting angry.
"I started feeling like I was being used," she said. She already was using alcohol and drugs. At 15, she said, she attempted suicide.
She took Valium and drank from a bottle of Grand Marnier, but it didn't work. "I woke up. I was really groggy."
Nobody found out, she said. She eventually passed her high school equivalency test and enrolled at the University of Oregon Honors College when she was 18.
"I did it to a certain extent to get away from him," she said. "But his parents lived in Eugene, and he came to visit me." They were always surprise visits. One time she returned to her room and he was there, she said.
Of course, by then she was no longer a minor. By then Neil Goldschmidt would not have been committing a crime every time he was intimate with the 18-year-old.
"It was consensual, he would say," she said. But it didn't feel like she had a choice, she said: "I felt I was under his control."
When she moved to New York City in the early 1980s to take summer acting classes, she remembered, he showed up in her apartment, unannounced. "He always seemed to know where I was," she said.
Neil Goldschmidt has told reporters the relationship lasted varying periods of time. At first, in his interview with The Oregonian, he said nine months. Later, in the same interview, he said "two calendar years." Other news organizations reported it ended after three years.
She said, though, the sex with Neil 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 me.
The Oregonian has no independent reporting that substantiates this, but it is consistent with what she told friends and family members through the years. Goldschmidt said it ended "some months later" in the year after the abuse began.
By the time she was in her mid-20s, she was scrambling -- for rent money, for a good job, for love, for escape from the pain. She used drugs and alcohol more heavily. It was when people thought cocaine was cool, she said. "Before people started dying. We didn't think it was addictive."
Her life was on a downward spiral. She had sexual relationships with rock stars, married men, cocaine-snorting attorneys.
And she started sharing the secret. She told her lovers that Neil Goldschmidt had seduced her when she was 13. Or she'd sit at a bar in the Dakota Cafe or the Virginia Cafe and tell strangers.
"I was a blabbermouth," she said,"because I had started to feel he owed me something."
The contrast between the life of the respected statesman and the life of the sometimes-unemployed cocktail waitress was stark and painful to her, a former straight-A student who, as a little girl, had once dreamed of becoming a Supreme Court justice.
She attempted suicide several times. She spent time in psychiatric wards in local hospitals, under suicide watch. When she got out, she'd return to work in bars, and to drink in bars. And she'd tell her story to more people.
Word got back to Neil Goldschmidt that she was talking. "A friend of mine had a call from a friend of his and said she was in a public establishment, and I would presume not entirely in great shape, telling the world that she had had a relationship with me," Goldschmidt told The Oregonian in May 2004.
Suddenly there appeared in her life people she called Neil's "handlers." Neil wanted to help, she said they told her. He wanted to help her get her life on track.
In May 2004, when Neil Goldschmidt told The Oregonian his sexual relationship had ended when his victim was a teen, he was vague when asked how many times he'd seen her since. "It wasn't really '75 to '94," when the settlement agreement was reached, he said. "It was really '90 to '91. It was the time after I was elected governor and -- I don't remember, but I mean it was more than twice and -- it wasn't 10 times, it wasn't eight times, it was -- several."
On Monday, he said, "In the ensuing years, I met with her intermittently at her request always with a third party present and tried to help her with counseling, bills, debts, rehab, and finding a job."
In those meetings, she said, "first they were going to get me a job in Portland or Salem. Then they must have decided they should get me the hell out of town."
When she was 27, she said, Neil 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 returned to Portland severely traumatized. Sometimes, in her mind, she'd confuse what Neil Goldschmidt had done to her as a child, and what her attacker had done to her in Seattle. Her fear of the man who was now governor of Oregon was tied, in her brain, to her fear of the man who'd raped her.
Word of the rape eventually reached Goldschmidt. "I subsequently learned she was just brutally assaulted," Neil Goldschmidt told The Oregonian in May 2004, "and bad things happened up there for which she's probably blameless, in the sense that she didn't invite it -- I mean literally ask for it. But she was always putting herself in circumstances like that."
After the rape, she was unable to hold down any job. She was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, she said. She said she saw Neil Goldschmidt only once after the rape. "I was so afraid of him all I could do was cry." It was their last intimate visit, she said. For the first time since she was 13 years old, she could no longer be in the same room as Neil Goldschmidt.
"After that, I would not answer his phone calls." In fact, she said, "I actually would vomit every time I heard the phone ring."
Her drug and alcohol use became even more extreme. She was arrested for trying to buy what turned out to be fake cocaine from a federal agent. After a plea bargain, she was convicted of attempting to possess cocaine. She violated probation by drinking alcohol and ended up in federal prison in Pleasanton, Calif.
Neil Goldschmidt was making deals in a wood-paneled office in Oregon's state Capitol. His victim was hiding in the fetal position beneath a bunk bed in a California prison cell, howling.
They put her on medication. They sent her for counseling. And, for the first time, she began to understand the enormity of the crimes that had been committed against her.
After 17 years of guilt and shame, she said, "It became clear to me that as a 13-year-old you aren't capable of making a decision to have an affair."
It was the counselor, she said, who explained that Neil had broken the law when he had sex with an underage girl. "It wasn't until I went to prison," she said, "that I realized he'd taken away my childhood."
She was released after six months, determined to seek reparation for the damage she believed Neil Goldschmidt had done. One by one, attorneys refused her case. Finally, someone recommended she see Jeff Foote.
Foote, a Portland lawyer, believed her and decided to help her when no one else would. "To this day, he's never taken a dime in legal fees for everything he's done for me."
Foote explained that the statute of limitations had long run out, so there could be no criminal charges filed. But she could still file a civil suit and collect damages. Foote contacted Neil Goldschmidt's attorney. In the end, "We came to a settlement agreement," she said. "Jeff thought that was the best thing to do, because I was still emotionally very fragile."
With regular payments coming in every month from Goldschmidt, her future finally seemed more secure.
She met a big bear of a man in Portland, a man who loved Harley-Davidsons and good food and her, and she married him. They moved to Las Vegas. She started a new life. She tried to forget.
But the nightmares she'd had since she was a teenager continued. She drank too much. She had trouble sleeping. She couldn't keep jobs. And then, in the late 1990s, the reporters from Oregon started calling.
At first the contacts were sporadic. Reporters would call, fishing for information she had promised never to reveal.
She'd accepted payments. She'd signed documents. So she lied to the reporters: Neil Goldschmidt was a great statesman, she said, a close family friend who had not molested her or threatened her or tried to buy her silence with money or jobs or tried to control her.
But the reporters trusted their instincts more than her protestations. The day the story broke, May 6, 2004, Foote called from Portland and recommended she leave her home to protect herself from a media frenzy.
"I was a total basket case. I didn't sleep for three days." She packed a bag and moved into a Las Vegas hotel, the first of many in the area she'd live in for the next few months.
Reporters sent e-mails and letters and phoned requesting interviews, demanding interviews. Media vans parked in front of her house. But they couldn't find her as she moved from hotel to hotel.
The news brought old feelings to the surface again. "It's all being rehashed, and I feel the old shame, the guilt, the fear. ... Those are feelings I should not be having" -- in therapy she had learned she was the victim, not the criminal -- "but I have them nonetheless. I'm also lonely. I'm very isolated."
She worried about money. She couldn't always afford to pay for the psychiatric medications she needed. The monthly payments from Goldschmidt had ended, she said, and the confidentiality agreement was moot.
"He's the one who broke the silence, I didn't," she said. "My attorney says once he spoke out, I was free to talk as well." In May 2004, Neil Goldschmidt told The Oregonian that the promise of confidentiality was necessary because "we couldn't figure out any way that she could start her life over without doing it."
Now, she wanted to tell her story. She wanted people to understand the true nature of Goldschmidt's crime. In her opinion it was not a "mistake" that never should have been made public, as his supporters had written. Instead of living in the governor's mansion, she believed, he should have been in a prison cell.
"He should have been punished. He shouldn't have been able to have this magnificent political career and hide this huge secret," she said. "He says (it) worried him for 30 years. I don't know how much of that I believe."
As happens to so many victims of child sex abuse, "sexually I had to grow up fast," she said. "Unfortunately, it made me feel that's all I was good for. I felt I was less than everyone else. I was just someone's sexual toy."
She felt he came forward with his confession and his public apology, his front-page expression of regret, only because he was about to be exposed for what he'd done to her as a child. The only time she ever saw an indication that Neil Goldschmidt took responsibility, she said, was when she was handed a brief statement when the settlement was signed.
"I'm not sure exactly what it said because we had to burn it, or shred it, right after I saw it. I only got to look at it a little while." She did not remember an apology in the statement. "But I do know he said, 'It was not your fault.' It was just one sentence. But he had to say that. ... it was part of the agreement."
She knew there were people in Oregon who felt sorry for Neil Goldschmidt, because the abuse had been made public, because his reputation had been tarnished. Someone sent her a newspaper article saying his ex-wife, Margie Goldschmidt, had thrown a party for Neil, apparently so his old friends could show their support.
"Don't these people have children?" she wondered. "How would they feel if he'd done this to their daughters?"
One of the reasons Goldschmidt's victim decided she wanted to speak out is she hoped parents might read her story and become more aware of the need to protect their children from even the most trusted family friends.
"They need to be vigilant, notice behavior changes, the appearance of people. Give your kid a cell phone. Instruct them about the dangers. Talk with them, have family dinners, make sure you know what's going on in their lives."
She hoped her family would understand why she wanted to speak out. She hoped they would understand she was tired of being portrayed only as "Goldschmidt's victim, the throwaway person ... this little nothing person nobody ever thought was worth paying attention to or protecting."
She hoped they would understand her need to finally tell the truth, "to stop keeping the secrets." She'd felt stronger, she told me, since she decided to speak out. She still had nightmares. But when awake, "I'm not scared anymore. Well, sometimes I get scared," she said. "But I just can't let this destroy my life any longer."
In our many visits, Goldschmidt's victim occasionally spoke of recovery, of finishing her college degree, of becoming a writer or some other kind of professional. But I think we both knew she was so sick, so broken, the odds were against her. She and her husband divorced and she returned to Portland. For the last five years, she was supported in every way possible by her parents.
She told me she grew close to them in ways she hadn't experienced since before the abuse began. But the mental illness, the addiction to alcohol, and the memories were more powerful than her wisps of dreams for a better future.
Over the last five years, she called me every few months to check in. She would ask about my life, and share her own struggles. She was honest about her alcoholism and mental illness. She tried and failed to keep jobs.
She began to write and joined a writers' group. She called me about a year ago and asked me to help her write her autobiography. But then she became too ill to do the work.
She died of undisclosed causes Jan. 16 in a local hospice. Her death was not a surprise to me. Even in 2004, when we first met, there had been so little life left in her.
"She was a beautiful, brilliant person," her mother told The Oregonian. "She was a good person who suffered a great deal in her life."
She was a very good person. She deserved far more than years of abuse and a shattered adult life. At least now her story has been told.
Last week the woman with whom I had an illegal sexual relationship 35 years ago died. I was shocked and saddened to learn of her death.
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.
To her family and friends, I am truly sorry for your loss of her at such a young age. I know she was well loved by all of you.
Although I am unaware of the exact nature of the article The Oregonian plans to publish, I was presented with a list of accusations that vary substantially from the truth. Sadly, it appears that much of her account is fabricated and I can only speculate as to her reasons. As I read the obituary last week that gave her date of birth, I now know she was 15 when the first sexual encounter happened. It occurred after the November 1976 elections and ended some months later into the following year. The reality is that it does not matter because she simply was not old enough to consent to sex and it was my moral and legal obligation to be the responsible adult.
In the ensuing years, I met with her intermittently at her request always with a third party present and tried to help her with counseling, bills, debts, rehab, and finding a job. I learned through those meetings that she had a complicated and tragic personal history before, during, and after I was in her life and she suffered from it as badly as anyone might. I have come to terms that this guilt will continue for the rest of my life. I am not trying to defend myself because there is no defense for what I did. This is simply a restatement of my apology and sorrow for all of those concerned.
From the moment I publicly confirmed my shameful conduct, the press has speculated about who knew or who assisted in covering up my actions. The reality is simple: I was far too ashamed to talk with anyone about it. With very few exceptions, I left my children, my best friends and my colleagues in the dark. None of them asked or presumably knew of my terrible secret. Many of them have suffered greatly from my actions and the resulting speculation and misinformation by others that has been widely publicized in the press.
I have tried to focus on paying off a debt of my own creation one that a lifetime of penance will not erase and to do so by the way I live. In the 35 years since I failed this young woman, her family, and my family, the pain has never eased. There are days when I believe it would be better if I were lifted from this earth and removed as a cause of pain for others and to find quiet for myself. Until this occurs, I will do my best to remember the person I damaged by doing right by the lives that surround me.