Speaker of the Oregon House of Representatives Dan Rayfield removed freshman Rep. Brian Stout (R-Columbia City) from his committee assignments because a five-year protection order against Stout remains in place.
A former campaign volunteer in November accused Stout of sexually abusing her and threatening her with violence. At a hearing in St. Helens last week, Stout sought to have the order dismissed without any testimony. Columbia County Circuit Judge Cathleen B. Callahan dismissed the motion. Stout’s attorney called numerous witnesses thereafter, and the hearing was scheduled to resume March 29, when witnesses for the plaintiff will take the stand.
Stout had been placed on two House committees, according to his state website: the Committee on Economic Development and Small Business, and the Committee on Business and Labor. (Stout, 55, owns a screen-printing business.)
“It’s important to have guiding principles that help me stay above the partisan fray when making key decisions,” Rayfield (D-Corvallis) said in a statement. “A restraining order—filed under penalty of perjury—crosses that line. I have a responsibility for the safety and security of those in the Capitol, and I’ll be moving forward with that in mind. 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.”
As first reported by WW, a Columbia County circuit judge granted a five-year protective order against Stout in November after a woman alleged in court documents that he had sexually abused her during his failed 2020 House campaign and later threatened to shove her off a cliff. He also threatened to slit her throat, the woman said. (It is WW’s policy not to name victims in sexual assault cases.)
At the hearing last Friday, Stout denied all of the woman’s charges of sexual abuse and said he never threatened her in any way. He did admit that the woman had performed fellatio on him after a 2020 campaign event, but he said the encounter was consensual and that she had initiated it. Stout confirmed that his wife walked in on the pair as the act concluded.
“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.”
The woman filed her petition for a sexual abuse protective order in Columbia County Circuit Court on Nov. 7, court records show. A judge granted the order the same day. The next day, Stout defeated Democrat Anthony Sorace in the race for House District 31. The seat has been held by incumbent Democrat Brad Witt, but redistricting eliminated Democrats’ advantage in the district and Witt moved to Salem to seek a seat there.
Stout’s victory helped the GOP strip Democrats of their three-fifths supermajority in the Oregon House.
One thing did change at the Friday hearing. Previously, the protective order said Stout had to stay at least 150 feet away from his accuser at all times. Now, if both parties are in the Capitol in Salem, they must stay as far apart as possible. The building is cramped, Judge Callahan said, so 150 feet would likely be impossible at all times.