Rural Oregon Legislator Accused of Sexual Abuse Loses Key Backer: Timber Unity

The group had endorsed Rep. Brian Stout’s successful 2022 bid for House District 31.

Rep. Brian Stout (R-Columbia City) (Campaign photo)

Timber Unity, the coalition of loggers, truckers and other rural businesses that formed in 2019 to oppose climate legislation, called upon Rep. Brian Stout (R-Columbia City) to resign after a circuit court judge upheld a five-year sexual abuse protective order against him on Monday.

The group had endorsed Stout in the 2022 election because of his “pro natural resource stance and thoughtful answers to our questionnaire,” Timber Unity said on its Facebook page yesterday.

“However, Timber Unity also respects the rule of law,” the group said in the post. “We will not and cannot tolerate any behavior that was deemed to make others feel unsafe, which is what the Columbia County judge determined in her ruling. Timber Unity is a community of men and women that deserve representation in Salem. Rep. Stout cannot be that voice.”

Timber Unity’s move means that Stout is under pressure from the right and left. Leaders of the Oregon House of Representatives, both Democrats, called on Stout to resign on Tuesday.

“I’ve been deeply troubled by the allegations of sexual abuse and abusive behavior since they surfaced,” House Speaker Dan Rayfield of Corvallis said in a statement. “The behavior described in the judge’s order does not align with the values of the House of Representatives. I no longer believe he can effectively serve and should therefore resign.”

Rayfield removed Stout from committee assignments soon after Stout took his seat in January. If Stout chooses to stay in the House, he will still be denied committee membership, Rayfield said. House Majority Leader Julie Fahey (D-Eugene) joined Rayfield in calling for Stout to resign.

Stout, in a statement, said he is mulling his future.

“While always respectful of the judicial process, I strongly disagree with the recent ruling on the hearing and am currently spending some time in review,” Stout said. “Additional conversations and reflection with my family and community will be ongoing over the next few days and following weeks.”

Without committee assignments, Stout is an ineffectual representative of House District 31, Timber Unity said. And he threatens the emotional well-being of women in the Capitol.

“Female staff, lobbyists, guests and elected officials deserve to feel safe,” Timber Unity said on Facebook. “We will hold our own accountable just as we hold others accountable. We are calling on Representative Stout to step down. HD 31 deserves a voice in Salem.”

Among Stout’s other endorsers, according to his campaign website: Oregonians for Food & Shelter, Oregon State Police Officers Association, Oregon Right to Life, Oregon Association of Nurseries, Oregon Family Farm Association, and Oregon Business & Industry.

Stout’s legal woes began late last year after a female campaign volunteer was granted a sexual abuse protective order, alleging a series of abusive, threatening encounters with Stout, including one in which he threatened to throw her off a cliff at Multnomah Falls if she said anything about their relationship.

Stout sought to remove the protective order and, in a three-day hearing in Columbia County Circuit Court, denied all the of the woman’s charges. Stout admitted only that the woman had performed fellatio on him after a 2020 campaign event, but that the encounter was consensual.

“There was a huge lapse of judgment by me,” Stout said. “I let her pull my pants down and perform oral sex. It was short, it was brief, and it was a mistake. She wanted it to go further. It did not.”

Stout denied that he sexually abused the woman on any of five occasions she detailed in her Nov. 7 petition for the protective order, calling her accounts “flat-out lies.”

Stout’s attorney, Nicholas Herman, said this week that his client plans to appeal Circuit Judge Cathleen Callahan’s Monday ruling that the protective order should stand.

(It is WW’s policy not to name the victim in sexual assault cases.)

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