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Another sex scandal has resulted in another Democrat congressman being forced to resign. On Tuesday, David Wu (D-OR), announced he would be stepping down following a “resolution” of the debt crisis, amid accusations that he participated in “unwanted and aggressive sexual behavior” with the 18-year-old daughter of a friend and campaign donor. The 56-year-old, seven-term representative claims the encounter was consensual. Wu had originally intended to remain in office until the end of his term in 2013, but was forced to reconsider when House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi made a formal request on Monday for an ethics investigation into the congressman’s behavior. “The time has come to hand on the privilege of high office,” said Wu in a written statement. “I cannot care for my family the way I wish while serving in Congress and fighting these very serious allegations.”
Wu’s announcement came only minutes after both of Oregon’s senators, Democrats Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkely, called on him to resign, citing accusation of inappropriate sexual behavior they characterized as “both jarring and exceptionally serious.” The senators contended such behavior had effectively compromised his ability to serve his constituents. “While he–like every American–deserves an opportunity to address those accusations and defend himself, our constituents in the first district of Oregon deserve a member in the House of Representatives whose main focus is fighting for their interests,” said the senators in a prepared statement. “This is a critical time for our state and our nation and Oregonians need every member of their Congressional delegation to be effective. While no one takes pleasure in asking a colleague to resign, we believe he can no longer be an effective representative for our shared constituents and should, in the best interest of Oregon, step down.”
The alleged encounter reportedly took place last November in California’s Orange County. Members of the congressman’s staff became aware of the incident last May when the woman involved left a phone message at Wu’s Portland office alleging the congressman had “forced himself upon her.” Sources who spoke with the Oregonian under the condition that they remain anonymous, independently claimed they had direct knowledge of the details. The paper reported that one of the staffers who heard the message characterized the woman as “breathing heavily” and “distraught” over the encounter which allegedly took place on Thanksgiving weekend. Sources were told the women went outside and Wu followed. That’s when the sexual encounter allegedly took place.
Staffers are also reporting that the woman did not go to the police because she believed that she had insufficient evidence to press charges. There were no witnesses to the encounter, and she believed she would be at a serious disadvantage in a “he said, she said” claim against a seven-term congressman. Last Friday, the woman, along with her parents, declined to speak to a reporter who showed up at their home. A statement issued by David Swanson, an Orange County lawyer whose website says he specializes in criminal law, said, “They are not interested in talking to” the press.
This is not the first incident in which Wu has been accused sexual misbehavior. In 2004, the Oregonian broke a story about an assault which took place at Stanford University in 1976, when Wu tried to force himself on a former girlfriend who had broken off their relationship. The then 21-year-old Wu was brought to the campus police annex where he was questioned by patrol commander Raoul K. Niemeyer. Niemeyer reported that Wu showed up with “scratches on his face and neck, and his T-shirt was stretched out of shape.” As with this incident, Wu claimed the encounter was consensual. “We just, I was with my girlfriend, and we just got a little carried away,” Niemeyer recalled Wu saying. Yet a Stanford professor recalled that the woman had told him Wu “angrily attacked her,” and an assistant dean who counseled the woman said she characterized the incident as “attempted rape,” adding that Wu “used a pillow to muffle her screams.”
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