Democratic Rep. David Wu is stepping down from the House in the wake of an accusation by an 18-year-old woman who says she had an unwanted sexual encounter with the congressman.
The Oregon lawmaker, in a statement released Tuesday, said he will resign “with great sadness” as soon as Congress resolves the ongoing debate over raising the federal debt ceiling.
“The well-being of my children must come before anything else,” said Mr. Wu in the statement. “This is the right decision for my family, the institution of the House and my colleagues.
“It is also the only correct decision to avoid any distraction from the important work at hand in Washington. I intend to go forward with new resolve and love of family, the state of Oregon and our nation.”
Mr. Wu’s announcement came after Oregon’s two Democratic senators — Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley — issued a joint statement earlier in the day calling on the seven-term congressman to resign.
The Oregonian newspaper reported Friday that the 18-year-old daughter of a childhood friend of Mr. Wu accused him of an unwanted sexual encounter last year in California. The paper said the woman decided not to press charges because there was no witness and it would have been her word against his.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, who a day earlier asked the chamber’s ethics panel to investigate the accusations, said Mr. Wu’s decision was “in the best interests of his constituents.”
“Congressman Wu’s decision today is a recognition of his need to focus on his children and their future,” Mrs. Pelosi said.
Rep. Steve Israel of New York, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said he was confident the party would retain Mr. Wu’s seat, which Democrats have held since 1975.
Mr. Israel added that Mr. Wu’s resignation “was the right decision.”
Mr. Wu, 56, won re-election in 2004 despite admitting to a decades-old college incident where he tried to force a former girlfriend to have sex. He has also been the subject of recent stories of strange personal behavior that worried members of his Hill staff.
In January, several of his staffers resigned because of behavior that included sending a photo of himself in a tiger costume to a staff member and an angry public speech. Mr. Wu attributed those to a period of mental health challenges that began in 2008 as marital issues led to a separation from his wife.
The Oregon Democrat is the third House member to resign this year in the wake of sexually related incidents. New York Democrat Anthony D. Weiner quit in June after a highly publicized scandal involving his online relationships with several woman. Republican Chris Lee stepped down from his New York seat in February after a shirtless photo of the married congressman was sent to a woman through Craigslist.
• This story is based in part on a wire report.