Rep. David Wu has been accused of an “unwanted sexual encounter” with the teenage daughter of a longtime friend, the latest scandal to engulf the troubled Oregon Democrat.
The Oregonian reported that the 56-year-old Wu “acknowledged a sexual encounter to his senior aides but insisted it was consensual,” according to sources aware of the incident.
A distraught young woman called U.S. Rep. David Wu's Portland office this spring, accusing him of an unwanted sexual encounter, according to multiple sources.
When confronted, the Oregon Democrat acknowledged a sexual encounter to his senior aides but insisted it was consensual, the sources said.
The woman is the daughter of a longtime friend and campaign donor. She apparently did not contact police at the time.
One person who heard the voice mail described the woman as upset, breathing heavily and "distraught."
In the voice mail, the young woman accused Wu of aggressive and unwanted sexual behavior, according to sources with direct knowledge of the message and its contents.
Reporters could not verify the young woman's age. Notes on Facebook over the past 18 months indicate she graduated from high school in 2010. California records show she registered to vote in August.
Wu, 56, did not respond to repeated questions from The Oregonian over the past four days.
Late Friday, Wu issued a one-sentence response: "This is very serious, and I have absolutely no desire to bring unwanted publicity, attention, or stress to a young woman and her family."
The Oregonian’s continuing coverage of David Wu in Congress.
Sources familiar with the voice mail said it was clear that the woman was the daughter of a high school friend of Wu's in Orange County. The Oregonian does not use the names of victims of sexual assault without their permission. In this case, the newspaper is withholding some details about the family that might identify them given the allegations.
The young woman and her mother and father declined to speak to a reporter outside their home Friday. The family said through an attorney that "they are not interested in talking to" the press. The attorney, David Swanson, is an Orange County lawyer who specializes in criminal law, according to his website.
Sources who talked to The Oregonian agreed to speak only on condition they not be named. They offered information about the alleged incident independently, and each said they had direct knowledge of its details.
Two people with knowledge of the recording and the later conversation with Wu said the alleged incident took place over Thanksgiving weekend. Sources said they were told that the woman went outside and Wu left after her. The sexual encounter followed, they said.
Two sources said the woman believed there was not enough evidence to press charges. There were no witnesses, and it would be her word against a seven-term member of the U.S. Congress.
The alleged incident raises new questions about Wu's behavior during the 1st District congressman's re-election campaign last year. According to staff at the time and emails from the period, he behaved so erratically that staff avoided scheduling him for public appearances and ran a campaign that relied heavily on advertising. Shortly before the Nov. 2 election, senior staff quietly shut down the campaign office and sent other campaign workers home.
In February, following unexpectedly large staff turnover, Wu acknowledged extreme stress last year, which he attributed to the campaign and problems in his marriage. He and his wife are in the process of getting a divorce. He said he sought counseling and has taken medication for an unspecified mental condition.
The Southern California incident allegedly occurred a little over three weeks after the election.
In 2004, The Oregonian reported on a 1976 case when Wu was a student at Stanford University and was disciplined for trying to force an ex-girlfriend to have sex.
Wu refused interview requests related to the Stanford incident for months and hired an attorney who aggressively attacked the paper's reporting and sought to stop publication. When the story ran three weeks before the 2004 election, Wu quickly apologized for his "inexcusable behavior" and was re-elected.
-- Charles Pope
Jayme Fraser and Lynne Palombo of The Oregonian staff contributed to this story.