Monday, January 26, 2009

Issue of the Day: Sam Adams

Rose City Reader is a book blog -- not a political blog. I generally avoid politics here. But the Sam Adams thing has me riled up -- The Oregonian even published a Letter to the Editor that I submitted. And while this is a "political" issue, it is not a partisan issue, so pardon this brief departure from books. Sam Adams is the mayor of Portland. He now admits that, when he was 42 and a city commissioner, he had a romantic relationship with a 17-year-old (who described a couple of dates and make-out sessions), which became a sexual relationship only after the kid turned 18. Adams lied about the whole thing before last fall's election, not only denying the accusations, but accusing anyone who believed them of, essentially, gay bashing. Most people seem pretty outraged by the whole thing, but some take the position that it is no one's business if a 42-year-old public figure has sex with an 18-year old. I fall into the majority camp. Call me a prude, but I don't think 40-somethings should date high school students. And when a particular 40-something is an elected official, I think it is fair to expect them to be on their best behavior. Portland already had one mayor who had sex with a teenager, which is one over our quota. Is there something in the water at City Hall? We are going to get a reputation as a pedophile-friendly zone. True, I may be more sensitive to pedophilia issues because most of my law practice involves representing the victims of childhood sexual abuse in lawsuits against the perpetrators and institutions that turned a blind eye to such abuse. But just because I am overly sensitive, does not mean I'm wrong. Here is the letter that The Oregonian printed:
Adams Seduced Teen Sam Adams used his position and age -- and the glamour that came with them -- to seduce a teenager. Whether or not Adams waited until Beau Breedlove turned 18 to have sex with him, the relationship he nurtured when the young man was 17 is what gave him the opportunity and authority to seal the deal. In my line of work (I represent the victims of childhood sex abuse in lawsuits) we refer to a perpetrator's befriending and "mentoring" of a young victim as "grooming." It's key evidence used to prove a case of child molestation. Does Portland really need a mayor whose pastime is grooming teenagers for sexual adventures?


  1. Wow. I don't really know how to say anything coherent. I think that's a very big deal. There is such a huge gap in experience and between 17 and 42 that anyway you slice it there is bound to be some manipulation/advantage that is maintained by the adult in the "relationship". And even if they were technically both consenting adults when the sexual part of their affair took place the same gap still exists and is exacerbated by the fact that the older man is a politician with access to even more power than he would probably otherwise have had in the relationship. So disturbing. I can't believe people are okay with it.


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