An attorney for former Portland Mayor Sam Adams today released an 18-page investigative report regarding 2017 harassment allegations against Adams by a former mayoral aide named Cevero Gonzales.
The report found "insufficient evidence exists to establish a claim of sexual harassment."
Last October, Adams hired the Portland lawyer Michael Fuller to look into Gonzales' accusations, which came in the form of a six-page letter to members of Portland City Council more than four years after Adams, who served as mayor from 2009 to 2013, left office.
Because neither Adams nor Gonzales still worked for the city of Portland when Gonzales submitted his letter on Nov. 3, 2017, the city attorney's office declined to investigate and there was no criminal investigation either.
The complaint appeared to have immediate impact, however. Adams, then working in Washington, D.C. for the World Resources Institute, a large non-profit focused on climate change, lost his job. (Adams and WRI have declined to comment on the reason for his departure.)
Adams moved back to Portland last year, seeking to rebuild a career that saw him rise through legislative and Portland city politics to become the first openly gay mayor of a major U.S. city before his tenure was crippled by scandal over his relationship with a young former legislative intern named Beau Breedlove.
Last October, Adams hired Fuller, who regularly represents whistleblowers and victims of harassment, to review Gonzales' allegations against him, which lingered without resolution. Fuller explained why he was taking the case in an op-ed he wrote for The Oregonian.
"As a fierce advocate for victims, I understand that our system of justice must ensure basic integrity and fairness for everyone, including the accused," Fuller wrote. "Without a fact-based review process, many innocent people could have their lives ruined."
Fuller gathered about 1,000 pages of documents, including emails and the results of investigations into previous harassment claims Gonzales made against another supervisor.
Fuller then redacted all names from those documents and presented them and Gonzales' letter, also redacted so readers would not know the names of any of those involved, to retired Oregon Judge Lyle Velure and Rebecca Cambreleng, a Portland employment lawyer.
Fuller asked both to review the accusations against Adams and determine whether they would have constituted a legally actionable case.
"The judge essentially conducted a bench trial based on the witness statements and the evidence we gathered," Fuller writes. "We also hired an employment lawyer to provide their opinion about the legal viability of the claims." (Fuller says he did not contact Gonzales because he'd already told WW that he did not have documents or witnesses that could corroborate his allegations.)
"After a thorough review of the facts, with the parties' identities redacted, two independent and impartial legal experts release the first-ever legal opinions about the still- unresolved harassment allegations made against former Portland Mayor Sam Adams in 2017," Fuller wrote. "Their conclusions: (1) a retired Oregon judge finds no actionable evidence exists; and (2) a renowned employment attorney determines the claim is without legal viability."
The report comes at an opportune time for Adams. As WW reported recently, he is among several candidates considering running for a City Council seat made vacant when incumbent Commissioner Nick Fish died Jan. 2.