Mayoral candidate Rep. Jefferson Smith (D-East Portland) did not tell the truth last week when he described a 1993 incident in which he was charged with misdemeanor assault against a female University of Oregon student, according the victim and the police report of the incident.
Smith's victim, now 37, tells WW Smith lied when he made statements last week after WW broke the story of the misdemeanor assault charge against Smith.
"He did not provide a truthful account of the incident," the woman says.
The victim asked that she not be identified, and WW agreed, because she still feels at risk from Smith, who showed up unannounced at her door last week.
WW obtained the police report Monday from the woman's lawyer, John Bassett, after she spoke to the newspaper.
Smith, 39, has not responded to WW's requests for an interview Monday.
In his version of the events he gave last week, Smith said he did not know the woman, and that he was defending himself after "she came at me, punching me."
The woman told police Smith, then 20, had previously tried to pick her up at a fraternity party earlier that night, and she had rejected him. According to her statement to police, he tried to persuade her to have sex with him, and mocked her when she said it would be against her morals. The woman says Smith told her to drink a beer to help change her mind, and called her a "snobby bitch" when she rejected him.
Smith saw her again later that night at another party at an off-campus apartment. The woman told police that she was asleep on a couch and woke up when someone shook it. "Seeing Smith and believing he had done it, she approached him and began to accuse him," the report says. "During the altercation, she had touched his chest, which her caused him to grab her arms. She said he suddenly drew back and struck her once."
She told police he struck her in the left eye with his closed fist.
"He really popped me," she told police.
According to the police report, the man who took the woman to the hospital, Garrett Kleen, told police "he saw 'the whole thing.' He confirmed (the woman's) version, saying that Smith was 'way out of line.'"
In his statements last week, Smith was vague about how the woman got a cut that required stitches, saying, "I pushed her away. She was coming at me at the same moment, and she was injured." Asked about that passive construction—"she was injured"—at a press conference last week, Smith acknowledged his hand might have made contact with the woman's face.
"Best recollection that I have was that it was my hand, but I didn't rear back and try to hurt anybody," Smith said.
But the Oct. 17, 1993, police report obtained by WW describing the events paints a different picture of what happened that night.
Last week, Smith told WW and other reporters that the woman was injured when he tried to push her away.
But according to the police report, Smith told a Eugene police officer that night he struck the woman in the forehead with his fist, requiring what the officer described as "5-6 stitches."
"He said he grabbed her arms to prevent her from striking him," the police report says. "He told me he let go of her, then 'tagged' her, striking her with his fist."
"What was I supposed to do?" Smith said to the police officer. "I was wrong. I admit that. I didn't know how else to handle it."
At his press conference last week, Smith declined to name the woman he hit. "She's a private citizen who didn't choose to become a public figure like I did, and I was hoping that she wouldn't be dragged into this campaign," he told reporters.
Smith gave WW a copy of the March 2, 1994, criminal diversion agreement that allowed him to avoid trial on the assault charge, and he blacked out the woman's name.
Last week Smith violated one of the terms of that agreement, which requires "that the defendant [Smith] shall refrain from having any contact with [the woman, name redacted]."
On Monday Oct. 1 at 8 am, just hours before he answered WW's questions about the incident, Smith and a campaign aide showed up unannounced on the woman's door. She told WW that she sent Smith away.
(Later that day, after WW broke the story about the assault, reporters asked Smith if he had had any contact with the woman since the incident. He said he had had "not any meaningful contact.")
Smith towered over the woman, who at 5' 3" is a foot shorter than Smith and weighs 100 pounds less. Their conversation was short, and he left a note on her door (see below) to explain himself.
âI was frightened and intimidated,â the woman told WW. âIt [the 1993 incident] was a painful experience and now I have to deal with it again. I just want it to be over.â
In addition to being interviewed by police, the victim also provided a written description of the night Smith punched her. Here's what she wrote:
"The first contact that I had with Jefferson Smith was down by the Mill Race at the Phi Kappa Psi house when he asked me, 'When are we going to get together?' The remark offended me, and I replied, 'Never.' He then said, 'Well, how about getting together for tonight?' I then began to insist that 'getting together' for the 'night' was against my morals. His reply was, 'Pound that 40 (ounces of beer) right there and it won't be against your morals.' He then began questioning me about my previous sexual experience, asking me if I liked sex, etc. I continually tried to ignore his questions and change the subject. I finally became insistent that I wasn't going to 'get together with him' after he put his face very close to mine and tried to kiss me. I refused, and he got up out of the chair he was sitting in and made the remark to his friend, 'You talk to this snobby bitch.' His friend had just approached us; the incident before occurred while me and Jefferson were alone."
Updated at 10:10 pm:
Updated at 10:44 pm:
Smith issued the following statement tonight:
"This unfortunate incident 19 years ago was one of the worst nights of my life. I have tried to be truthful about what happened, and at least 4 people who were there (including those I havenât spoken to in nearly 20 years) have confirmed that I was defending myself after being struck repeatedly. Iâve tried to take responsibility for my actions -- then and now."