THE DOCUMENT: Before he took office this month, freshman state Rep. Brian Stout (R-Columbia City) agreed to keep his office door open during meetings and to have either his wife, who is on his staff, or a legislative aide present during meetings.
That’s according to a Dec. 30 letter obtained by WW that Stout sent to leaders of the Oregon House of Representatives.
“These politically motivated allegations and stories against me are false,” Stout wrote. “However, I am not deaf to the effect this could have on other members of the Legislature, and which may give some members pause. I am ready and willing to make certain accommodations until this matter is resolved.”
WHY IT MATTERS: Stout is starting his legislative career under a cloud. In November, a former campaign volunteer asked a Columbia County circuit judge for a protective order against Stout, alleging he had sexually abused her, then threatened to slit her throat and throw her off a cliff.
The protective order says Stout has to stay at least 150 feet away from his accuser at all times, except in the Capitol, where tight space might make that impossible. If both parties are there, they must stay as far apart as possible.
At a court hearing Friday, Stout sought to have the order removed. Beyond a blow job that he begrudgingly accepted, Stout said he had no sexual contact with the woman and never threatened her with any kind of violence.
The woman “wanted to be with me physically,” Stout told the court. “I let her pull my pants down and perform oral sex. It was short, it was brief, and it was a mistake.” (It is WW’s policy not to name victims in alleged sexual assault cases.)
Under questioning by his attorney, Stout denied all the incriminating facts in five detailed episodes of nonconsensual sex that the woman alleged under penalty of perjury.
And, to boot, Stout said his accuser didn’t need a protective order because he has been trying to avoid her since the night of their encounter. She, by contrast, has been showing up at events knowing he would be present and has on more than one occasion visited a public park at the end of his driveway, Stout said.
“I want nothing to do with this woman,” Stout testified.
The woman will have the opportunity to tell her side of the story March 29, when the hearing on the protective order is scheduled to resume. Witnesses for Stout, who lauded his character, raised questions about his accuser, or both, took up all the available time Friday.
Stout’s version of events “will be addressed,” the woman’s attorney, Alexis Fisher, said.
THE PRECEDENT: It’s not the first time an Oregon legislator has had his office door regulated. In 2017, former state Sen. Jeff Kruse (R-Roseburg) made a habit of smoking in his office, which is prohibited in the Capitol.
Kruse had bigger problems at the time. Then-Senate President Peter Courtney had already admonished him for touching women at the Capitol, but he kept on doing it.
“Let me be very clear,” Courtney said in a letter to Kruse dated Oct. 20, 2017. “Women in the Capitol do NOT want you to touch them.”
Courtney removed the door, ostensibly to keep Kruse from smoking, and he removed Kruse from his committee assignments to punish him for all the touching. Kruse resigned in 2018.
Stout’s vow to keep his door open and hold meetings under supervision wasn’t enough for House Speaker Dan Rayfield (D-Corvallis). On Monday, he removed Stout from his two committee assignments: Economic Development and Small Business, and Business and Labor. Stout, 55, owns a screen-printing business.
“I have a responsibility for the safety and security of those in the Capitol, and I’ll be moving forward with that in mind,” Rayfield said in a statement. “I continue to find the nature of these allegations disturbing, and I’m taking this very seriously. I’d hoped that the hearing process would be completed on Friday to have clear direction. The fact remains that there is still an active restraining order in place by the presiding judge.”