Seven term Congressman David Wu, D-Ore., has been accused of having an "unwanted sexual encounter" with a barely legal young woman. The Oregonian quoted sources as saying that a distraught young woman called Wu's Portland office earlier this year and left a voicemail accusing him of an unwanted sexual encounter in Southern California three weeks after last year's election.
But The Oregonian also reported that Wu told senior aides that the sexual encounter last November with the young woman in California was consensual. The paper said the woman decided not to press changes because there were no witnesses and it would have been her word against Wu's.
The congressman has fought accusations of unrelated strange and erratic behavior during his re-election campaign last year. Members of his re-election campaign quit in January because of behavior that included sending a photo of himself in a tiger costume to a staff member and an angry public speech. And according to a news account: "In a 2004 re-election bid, Wu acknowledged a decades-old college incident in which he tried to force an ex-girlfriend to have sex."
Wu is in the process of divorcing, but that is not related to the latest accusation.
One of Wu's opponents in next year's primary for his congressional seat refused to rush to judgment about Wu, and his take on the matter seems prudent: "I'm saddened to hear this news. David owes the citizens he represents a detailed explanation," said State Rep. Brad Witt. "If this accusation proves to be true, it's time for David Wu to resign and get the help he needs."
Tom Chamberlain, Oregon AFL-CIO president, said "it's too early" to say whether Wu should step down.
But another challenger for Wu's seat doesn't think it's necessary to wait to find out what happened, and by his comments, he suggests he knows Wu is guilty: state Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian, said Saturday Wu should resign immediately. "I think any 56-year-old man, especially a 56-year-old Congressman, that asserts himself like this on an 18-year-old girl, has got no business serving in Congress," Avakian said at a news conference. "There is nothing that can be explained that makes this situation right. He's got to resign."
Some of the calls for Wu's resignation are being made by persons who cite his earlier erratic behavior, even though it is unrelated to the current allegation.
This is just the latest of several high profile Beltway sex scandals in recent months, generally ending badly for the men involved. In February of this year, Rep. Christopher Lee, R-N.Y., abruptly resigned after a gossip website reported that he had sent a shirtless photo of himself to a woman he met on Craigslist. Last month, Congressman Anthony Weiner stepped down after getting caught sending suggestive pictures of himself on his Twitter account.
Last year, police ended an investigation into a several-years-old "he said/she said" claim of sexual misconduct involving Al Gore. Police did not bring charges. It is interesting to note that women's advocate and author of "Real Rape," Susan Estrich, discussed the Gore case on a Fox News program hosted by conservative Sean Hannity. Note that Mr. Hannity appeared to want Ms. Estrich to call for charges against Mr. Gore. Ms. Estrich refused:
Transcript of "Hannity," June 29, 2010.
SEAN HANNITY: But, Susan, it's one or two scenarios. Either what she is saying is true or she's lying, which in it of itself would be a crime, right?
ESTRICH: Well, yes, but, you know, the problem is we just don't know and there's no way to determine. All we know for sure is that the police at the time, who were charged with investigating things like this, did not think there was substantial evidence enough to move forward and she chose not to file a civil suit. So what have you got?
. . . .
HANNITY: . . . you have openly talked about you have been a victim of rape. This crosses a very serious line, these allegations. So the question is, what should we do with them?
ESTRICH: Well, you know, Sean, I'm the mother of a son and a daughter. And I would hate like heck for my daughter ever to be in a position where she faces an unwanted sexual advance.
I mean this is obviously not rape, but I mean I was scarred by being a rape victim, there's no question about it. But I'm also the mother of a son. And you and I both witnessed, for instance, in the Duke case, a number of young men whose lives were — for all intends and purposes —
ESTRICH: — ruined by a false accusation.
. . . .
Sources re: the Wu story: http://news.yahoo.com/wu-talks-pelosi-sex-allegation-024700805.html and