More than a year after denying it, newly elected Mayor Sam Adams has admitted having a sexual relationship with a male teenager in 2005.
Adams, who is openly gay, acknowledged the relationship on his Web page Monday, shortly after the Willamette Week newspaper broke the story on its Web site. He did not resign.
Adams, 45, said he and the teen were together in the summer of 2005, shortly after the teenager turned 18. The revelations come nearly a year and a half after Adams and teen said rumors of a sexual relationship between them were false. The rumors started just as the then-city commissioner was launching his mayoral bid.
“I lied at the time because I was afraid that people would believe untrue rumors being circulated by an undeclared mayoral opponent that I had broken a law involving sexual relations with a minor. But this is not a good excuse,” Adams said in his statement.
The Willamette Week reported that it had confronted Adams with new evidence of the relationship last week, and Adams continued to deny it. The mayor is in Washington D.C., attending Tuesday’s inauguration.
Adams said in 2007 that he had acted as a mentor to the teen, a legislative intern, at a time when he was struggling to come out of the closet.
In an open letter to Portlanders in 2007, he dismissed the rumors as a political smear.
“I will not dignify the substance of this smear by repeating it ? if you read the accounts you will see there is no foundation to it. The reason is simple: it is untrue,” he said in the letter.
“This kind of ugly politicking may be commonplace in other cities and at the national level, but Portland and Oregon largely has been blessedly free of it. It saddens me that it has been introduced here, and I have faith that Portlanders’ rejection of it will mean that this incident is an anomaly.”
[NOTE: Willamette Week also suggests Adams may have given a job to a reporter for the Portland Mercury, Amy Ruiz, to keep her from continuing to pursue reports that Adams had lied about his relationship with the teen. Both Ruiz and the mayor deny this.]
[The Willaimette Week story declares: “Voters have handed Adams the keys to America?s 30th largest city. Most Portlanders may not care whom he sleeps with so long as it?s legal. But they expect a mayor who is smart enough to level with the public?and who is not beholden to anyone to protect his secrets. The puzzling relationship of Portland?s new mayor with a young man less than half his age is not a story about sexual preference. Instead, it is a story about candor and the need for the public to be able to trust its leaders.”]
Despite the rumors, Adams coasted to victory in 2008, making Portland the largest U.S. city to ever elect an openly gay mayor. He was sworn in Jan. 1.
In his statement Monday, Adams apologized to the young man, now 21, for making him lie about the relationship. He also apologized to colleagues and voters.