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Oregon State Bar investigates Goldschmidt’s affair

William McCall Associated Press

PORTLAND — Former Gov. Neil Goldschmidt is under investigation by the Oregon State Bar to determine whether he should be disciplined after his stunning confession about sex with a 14-year-old girl in the mid-1970s.

Goldschmidt has not practiced law for years, but he still holds a license that could be suspended or revoked.

Public outrage quickly followed Goldschmidt’s confession last week that he began a sexual relationship with the girl in 1975 while he was Portland mayor.

Goldschmidt, now 63, was 21 years her senior, married and the father of two young children. The girl, now 42, confronted Goldschmidt in her late 20s, resulting in a lawsuit that was settled for a reported $250,000.

Sex between an adult and a child is defined as rape. But Goldschmidt does not face any criminal charges or prosecution because the statute of limitations at the time was only three years. Attorney conduct, however, is subject to discipline at any time from the Oregon State Bar.

“We’re in the initial investigation stage but we are evaluating the issues,” said Kateri Walsh, bar spokeswoman.

She confirmed the bar has opened a disciplinary file on Goldschmidt — until now one of the most influential men in Oregon — that could result in sanctions ranging from a letter of admonition, a public reprimand or suspension of his law license from 30 days to five years to disbarment.

Any suspension of six months or longer, up to disbarment, is automatically reviewed by the Oregon Supreme Court, Walsh said.

Goldschmidt’s office referred all calls to his spokesman, Brian Gard, who said he would not comment.

Walsh said only four lawyers have been disciplined for sexual misconduct in the past 20 years in Oregon, and just one was disbarred.

Another prominent Oregon politician, former Sen. Bob Packwood, was investigated by the state bar before he resigned from the Senate in 1995 under allegations he made unwanted sexual advances toward various women while he was in office.

But Packwood had been on the state bar’s inactive list for years at the time, and the investigation was halted during a Senate ethics hearing.

Details of the relationship between Goldschmidt and the girl have been emerging since his confession last Thursday as Willamette Week, a Portland weekly, was preparing to publish a story revealing it.

Goldschmidt confessed the relationship to the Oregonian. He also issued a public statement saying the “affair” had lasted nearly a year. However, subsequent news reports indicated it may have lasted nearly three years.

Friends of the girl, now a married woman living in Nevada, have told news organizations that her life began to unravel at age 14. She dropped out of school, went through a period of drug abuse and sought therapy, according to published reports.

She told friends about the trysts with Goldschmidt early in the relationship, according to news reports.

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