maarmie's musings

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

The Covered Up Cover-up

Kudos to Nigel Jaquiss and Willamette Week (JUST a weekly rag - hah!) for winning a 2005 Pulitzer for Investigative Reporting for breaking the 30-year secret regarding former Oregon Gov. Neil Goldschmidt's three-year sexual assault on a 14-year-old girl, a one-time babysitter who is the daughter of a former employee.

While I am glad to see the truth exposed about a highly regarded leader and public figure, I am saddened by what appears to be shoddy journalism that borders on a cover-up by my former employer and one of the most highly regarded papers in the country: The Oregonian. According to followup articles by Willamette Week and other news sources as well as journalism ombudsman American Journalism Review, The Oregonian first got wind of the abuse about 18 years ago yet failed to dig into it and finally reported on it only after Willamette Week published its own story. Horrifyingly enough, The Oregonian, in its article, referred to the assault as an affair, however, and had the nerve to publish an op-ed favorable to Goldschmidt written by one of Goldschmidt's friends who served as a runner between the victim and her assailant in the years following the abuse.

Many people have had knowledge of Goldschmidt's abusive and pedophilic past since the time it happened. One of the top reasons given by this myriad of monsters for not coming forward (aside from the obvious unspoken reason: the professional gain and wealth those close to Goldschmidt have enjoyed throughout the years) is that during Goldschmidt's tenure as governor, he brought about changes that helped make Portland a city people notice. Who wanted to be responsible for turning rumor into fact? Who wanted to fell a hero? Who wanted to be the one to break the news that the city's saint is really a sinner?

Apparently, Willamette Week has no problem with any of the above and is deserving of its Pulitzer. In my opinion, WW did the right thing - even more so because Goldschmidt had, before now, been held in such high regard. After all, saints don't deserve saint status if they're really cretins in disguise.

My heart goes out to the victim of the abuse, from all accounts an attractive and intelligent woman who, since the abuse, spiralled downward from getting poor grades in high school to suffering PTSD after a brutal rape in Seattle (compounded, I'm sure, by Goldschmidt's previous abuse) to drug use and a prison stint.

A settlement nearly a decade ago provided the victim with $250,000 of Goldschmidt's hard-earned (or ill-gotten) cash. That's little consolation for a life ruined by someone many years older and in a position of power who cared more about getting his dick wet than in what the consequences would be as a result of this unjustifiable crime.

One other note: Goldschmidt and his league of cronies aren't the only ones who should pay for the crime and its cover-up. The victim's mother isn't deserving of having the title "mom" considering she went back to work for her daughter's assailant even after she found out about the abuse. Years earlier, she also learned of sexual assaults committed against her daughter by an elder relative as well - and failed to do anything to stop it. I'm not a firm believer in the death penalty, but...

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