- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 23, 2004

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Former Gov. Neil Goldschmidt smiles broadly from a larger-than-life portrait hanging outside the state Senate, casting a friendly gaze upon lawmakers and thousands of schoolchildren who tour the Oregon Statehouse each year.

But for some who pass Mr. Goldschmidt’s image, the painting has taken on a more sinister appearance since he admitted having a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old girl in the 1970s, when he was the mayor of Portland.

Now, lawmakers are weighing whether to remove the likeness from a gallery of former governors’ portraits.

“It’s awkward for him and for the state to have it here,” said Mar Goodman, 55, as she toured the Capitol. “It probably should be moved. They ought to put it someplace else.”

Mr. Goldschmidt, a Democrat who served a single term as governor from 1987 to 1991, once was one of the most respected men in the state, praised for helping transform Oregon from a backwater into a national prototype for urban planning.

He admitted the relationship earlier this month, days before a weekly newspaper was going to break the story. He stepped down from two jobs, surrendered his law license and issued a public apology.

According to Oregon laws in 1975, sex with a girl younger than 16 constituted third-degree rape, but the statute of limitations expired in 1979.

Senate President Peter Courtney, also a Democrat, said he’s reluctant to order removal of the painting, which has hung in the Capitol since 1993.

“I’m not trying to excuse anybody’s actions,” said Mr. Courtney, co-chairman of the panel that oversees the Capitol. “But we’re dealing with history here. It’s a historical building filled with pictures of those who served the public.”

The panel is scheduled to meet June 22 to rule on the painting.

Mr. Goldschmidt, 63, said the affair started in 1975 when he was 35 and married. Rumors of extramarital affairs were hinted at during his political career, and he decided against a second term as governor after his first marriage ended.

Mr. Goldschmidt agreed in 1994 to pay the victim a financial settlement put at $250,000 by the weekly paper. He did not identify the woman, who once baby-sat his children.

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