Content warning: This story includes a detailed account of sexual assault.
On Jan. 10, Charles McGee entered the race for Multnomah County commissioner after 12 years leading a Portland nonprofit called the Black Parent Initiative.
As the CEO of one of the city's leading culturally specific nonprofits, McGee has built an expansive network. Supporters hailed his bid for office as a promising step for the causes he has championed.
But for Erica Naito-Campbell, McGee's announcement brought back painful memories and prompted a reckoning.
"I always told myself that I would come forward if Charles ever ran for office," says Naito-Campbell. "Because there are some things that simply cannot be allowed."
In a recent series of interviews with WW, Naito-Campbell, 37, says that nearly six years ago, McGee and another man sexually assaulted her.
In those interviews and a three-page sworn affidavit she provided WW, Naito-Campbell described a May 10, 2012, incident in which she says McGee and the other man sexually assaulted her at a private residence.
"At no time was I interested in being touched by either man, nor did I consent to be touched," Naito-Campbell writes in the Jan. 20, 2018, affidavit. "The next day, my body was bruised all over with fingerprint marks, and I bled when I went to the bathroom."
On Jan. 19, WW began an interview with McGee about Naito-Campbell's allegations. He said he knew Naito-Campbell but had never sexually assaulted her or any woman. However, McGee ended the interview before responding to specific questions about the alleged assault and turned down further interview requests.
"My attorney doesn't think we should meet," he wrote in a Feb. 3 text message. His attorney, Edie Rogoway, also declined to answer further questions.
The other man, Aubré Dickson, a Portland banking executive, did not reply to two dozen interview requests over a three-week period. After calling, emailing and texting him repeatedly, WW visited his office and his home and sent registered letters to both addresses. Dickson never responded. A spokesman for his employer said the bank notified Dickson of WW's inquiries but otherwise declined to comment.
On Feb. 5, Dickson quit the Oregon Housing Stability Council, which he chaired. On Feb. 6, McGee abruptly quit the county race, citing only "personal reasons."
Naito-Campbell is a granddaughter of Bill Naito, a real estate developer credited with revitalizing Portland's downtown in the 1970s and '80s. She is a graduate of Reed College and Lewis and Clark School of Law and a single mother of one son. Her decision to step forward comes at a time when women all over the country are revealing long-suppressed accounts of sexual harassment and abuse.
Naito-Campbell says she didn't report the alleged assault to police, but she did tell her family and numerous friends at the time. WW interviewed six of those friends and also her therapist, whom she told years afterward. All of those interviewed recalled her telling them the same story she outlines in her affidavit.
Naito-Campbell also provided an email she'd sent to another friend in July 2013, telling the story in similar detail.
Friends say they found the story credible, and those who knew her before the alleged incident say Naito-Campbell is a different person than she was prior—distraught and often paralyzed by fear and anxiety.
"I believed her absolutely," says Elizabeth Peters, a doctoral student at Portland State University who attended high school and college with Naito-Campbell. "The trauma changed who she is. You don't make that up."
The therapist, who saw her weekly for two years, agrees.
"This incident has damaged her to a place where I'm not sure she can make a full recovery," says the therapist, who also interviewed some of her family and friends about Naito-Campbell's condition before the incident. "In terms of her self-worth, her ability to have a relationship and her belief in the concept of trust, there's been a huge, negative shift."
McGee, now 32, entered politics at 19, when he ran unsuccessfully for a seat on the Portland School Board. He left PSU after his sophomore year and co-founded the Black Parent Initiative.
His organization has contracts with Multnomah County, Portland Public Schools and the state of Oregon, among others. It provides a variety of services, including helping families prepare children to succeed in school and maintain a stable home.
McGee twice previously considered runs for public office but finally decided this year to run for the seat being vacated by Multnomah County Commissioner Loretta Smith. Smith is running for the Portland City Council seat being vacated by Commissioner Dan Saltzman.
Dickson, 43, is a leading Oregon figure in affordable-housing finance. He serves on the board of the Portland Housing Development Center and, until Monday, the state Housing Stability Council, which this year will provide $250 million to projects across Oregon.
Naito-Campbell worked for her family's real estate business when she met Dickson and McGee in 2010. All three were enrolled in Leadership Portland, a nine-month program offered by the Portland Business Alliance. She says she and Dickson were Platonic friends before the alleged incident. She was not friends with McGee and says she had never previously met with him outside the PBA program.
Naito-Campbell says that on May 10, 2012, after the PBA program ended, she and Dickson arranged to meet downtown at the University Club, where they would connect with McGee, a friend of Dickson's. (Dickson served on McGee's board at the Black Parent Initiative.)
"He said Charles wanted to hang out with us," Naito-Campbell recalls.
A University Club official says May 10 was the one night a year the private club was open to the public for what's called a "Grand Reception."
Naito-Campbell provided WW copies of a number of emails between her and Dickson written in late April and early May 2012, making arrangements to meet at the University Club that evening. Dickson sent his messages from a work email account.
Naito-Campbell says the three met for drinks at the University Club on the evening of May 10. When the Grand Reception wound down, they all decided to leave in McGee's car. She wanted to go dancing, but she says McGee insisted on going to a strip club instead.
Naito-Campbell says things started going wrong in McGee's vehicle, which she thinks was a Toyota Camry. (Records show McGee's wife owned a 2007 Camry at the time.) Naito-Campbell sat in the front passenger seat, with Dickson in back.
"[McGee] keeps reaching over and touching my knee," she says. "I reminded him he was married. He took off his wedding ring and put it in the cup holder and said, 'Not tonight, I'm not.'"
They crossed the Willamette River to a strip club—she thinks it was in North Portland but cannot recall the club's name. She says McGee bought her a drink there that she neither wanted nor drank. They soon left the club. McGee drove the three of them to a private residence, which Naito-Campbell described asbeing on the city's outer eastside.
Records show McGee's wife owned a home on Southeast 89th Avenue in Montavilla from 2009 to 2015.
Inside the home, she says, McGee produced tequila and marijuana and put both on an island in the kitchen.
She remembers feeling trapped. "Charles just looked at me and I knew," she says.
Then, Dickson turned off the lights. "I said, 'Don't do this, please don't do this,'" recalls Naito-Campbell. She says McGee grabbed for her, reaching under her dress and pulling down her panties. She fell onto a hardwood floor and a child's high chair tipped over, spilling a drink (McGee and his wife had a young child then). McGee pinned her to the floor.
"I said 'no' over and over, so many times," she says.
"Charles was going down on me, and I kept trying to push his head away," Naito-Campbell says. "Aubré just stood there and watched. Then Charles was going to try and penetrate me with his penis, and I put my hand over my vagina."
Dickson eventually turned the lights back on, she says, and told McGee to stop. She hoped the assault was over. But then, she says, Dickson grabbed her as she sat on the couch and McGee turned off the lights.
"Then they were both all over me," says Naito-Campbell, who is 5-foot-2 and 110 pounds. Dickson, who briefly played football for PSU, is 6-foot-1 and 190 pounds, according to his driver's license; McGee, 5-foot-10 and 205 pounds.
"Aubré was fingering me really hard," she says, "and I just kept saying, 'Don't do this.' He pulled his penis out and I put my hand over my vagina. Aubré was trying to jam his penis in and I wanted it to be over. Then they stopped."
Naito-Campbell says she thinks she was in the house for more than an hour.
Then, Dickson drove her back downtown to Southwest Broadway, where she'd left her car near the University Club.
She says she didn't notify police.
"I was still too traumatized to fully admit how much I'd been harmed, emotionally and mentally," she says.
Rosemary Brewer, a former prosecutor who now heads the Oregon Crime Victims Law Center, says sexual assault victims frequently don't go to the police. "They fear backlash," Brewer says, "and there's a long history of women coming forward and people not believing them."
(Under Oregon law, sodomy [forcible oral sex] and unlawful penetration are felonies, each punishable by a mandatory minimum sentence of 100 months in prison. The statute of limitations for those crimes is six years—in Naito-Campbell's case, until May 12, 2018.)
Naito-Campbell says in ensuing days, she called a rape hotline (her phone records show a 42-minute call to the Portland Women's Crisis Line on May 13, 2012) and told friends. She remembers making those calls while walking in Tryon Creek State Park near her home. She soon began seeing a therapist and walked endlessly.
"I was trying to exorcise what happened to me," she says.
Naito-Campbell says after the incident, she feared going downtown, stopped attending public events with crowds, and found herself unable to sit in a movie theater or an airplane. She was afraid she might see her alleged attackers. In confined spaces, she felt trapped as she says she had felt in McGee's house. "I developed severe PTSD and began to have dissociative episodes," Naito-Campbell says.
Naito-Campbell says she never had further contact with McGee, but almost a month after the alleged incident, Dickson reached out to her. This time, instead of contacting her via his work email, he used a personal email account.
In a June 7, 2012, email Naito-Campbell provided WW, Dickson wrote: "Can we PLEASE be friends again?! I'll keep harassing you until you say YES :)."
"Seriously though, E, I haven't been the same since that night," Dickson continued. "Can we at least grab coffee and talk? I want to make things right between us. I value your friendship and genuinely care about your well-being. At least reply to this email to let me know you got this."
Naito-Campbell says she never replied.
Three months later, in September, Dickson wrote her again from his personal account, in an email with the subject line "I hope you're well."
"Just wanted to say hello," he wrote. "I hope you had an enjoyable summer."
Naito-Campbell didn't reply to that email either.
In October 2015, more than three years after the alleged incident, Naito-Campbell's therapist persuaded her that writing to Dickson about the alleged assault might help her move past it.
So she did. "You violated so much that night," she wrote in a Oct. 4, 2015, handwritten letter she mailed to Dickson's work address. "I believed that if Charles tried anything, you would step in and protect me."
She says Dickson did not reply.
Since 2012, McGee's public profile has grown. He served on the state's Early Learning Council and numerous local advisory groups. His nonprofit grew to $1.1 million in annual revenues. Last year, his wife, Serilda Summers-McGee, became the human resources director for the city of Portland. And downtown developers and community leaders wrote checks to his campaign.
Dickson has also thrived, moving to a new job as vice president of community development lending at KeyBank and becoming chairman of the state's Housing Stability Council, a gubernatorial appointment.
Today, Naito-Campbell is working on a biography of her grandfather and does some legal writing, including co-authoring a chapter on post-traumatic stress disorder for a new Oregon State Bar practice guide for lawyers.
She doesn't expect going public with her story will suddenly fix the demons she says have plagued her since the night of May 10, 2012.
"My PTSD won't get resolved by one or both [men] taking responsibility or apologizing," she says. "What they broke can never be put back together. I will never be who I was before that night."
WW has not found any other evidence of sexual assault or harassment in Aubré Dickson's past. Charles McGee's history is more complicated.
WW has interviewed multiple sources who described alleged sexual harassment and abuse by McGee reaching back to 2006.
• In 2006, a woman who knew McGee invited him to her house in Northeast Portland.
They attended the same church and had friends in common. But once in her home, the woman, now in her mid-30s, says McGee initiated and engaged in nonconsensual sex, grabbing her from behind when her back was turned.
The woman, whose identity WW is withholding, never reported the assault to police, although she says she spoke to friends about it at the time. (Another woman confirmed to WW that the alleged assault was known among a small group of church members.) The alleged victim says McGee, who moved in the same social circles she did, pestered her for another meeting.
"Why won't you talk to me?" she remembers him asking. "'I told you 'no,'" she replied. "You forced yourself on me."
• In 2007, a woman named Patrice Hardy went to court to seek a stalking order against McGee, claiming he had aggressively pursued her in person and online against her wishes. She says he called and emailed her incessantly and entered her home uninvited.
"I just want him to leave me alone, and he will not do so," Hardy, who lived near McGee, testified in September 2007 in Multnomah County Circuit Court. "I've begged him."
In his ruling, Judge Terry Hannon called McGee's behavior a "classic" case of stalking.
"She has every right to fear for her safety," Judge Hannon told McGee, according to a tape of the hearing. Hannon issued a stalking order that was in effect for three years.
After the Portland Tribune first reported the stalking order in December 2017, McGee issued a statement on Facebook:
"I want to be clear that, while I made a mistake in continuing to initiate communications, at no point was there any physical or sexual harassment or anything of that nature," he wrote.
McGee's supporters, including some elected officials, applauded his statement in Facebook comments.
"Thank you for being vulnerable and sharing your story," wrote state Rep. Diego Hernandez (D-Portland).
"I'm sorry this is happening to you, Charles," added City Commissioner Chloe Eudaly. "We've all had missteps."
• In September 2010, McGee was the subject of a harassment complaint after a Portland Business Alliance retreat at Skamania Lodge in Stevenson, Wash.
A female participant in the PBA's Leadership Portland program complained to the alliance that McGee made unwanted advances at the retreat.
The woman declined to comment to WW, but PBA President and CEO Sandi McDonough acknowledges receiving a complaint about McGee. "Concerns were raised about an interaction between certain class members," McDonough says, adding that alliance staff counseled McGee about PBA's behavior expectations.
• In 2014, another woman whom McGee dated before his 2010 marriage said that after he repeatedly approached her on Facebook, she finally blocked him. Says the woman, "He made me very, very uncomfortable."
The nonprofit WW Fund for Investigative Journalism provided support for this story.