not #himtoo

Ex-mayor hopes to clear his name after former staffer walks back sexual misconduct allegations

Former Portland mayor Sam Adams says he’s on a mission to clear his good name after an ex-staffer dragged him through the mud two years ago by making shocking sexual misconduct allegations that he has since walked back.

In 2008, Adams became the first openly gay person ever elected to be his city’s mayor. He served from January 2009 through December 2012 before announcing he would not seek reelection, despite being a widely popular mayor.

Then, in November 2017, Adams’ openly gay former assistant, Cevero Gonzalez, dropped a six-page bombshell account detailing alleged mistreatment he suffered at the hands of Adams while working as his executive assistant during his time in office.

Gonzalez alleged that Adams made obscene gestures, exposed his genitalia, spoke in graphic detail about his sexual exploits, and demanded Gonzalez share accounts of his own bedroom conquests, among other shocking accusations.

One of the most damning allegations involved a time when Gonzalez picked up Adams from the airport and claimed the then-mayor “lightly grabbed at his crotch” and said “Don’t be so uptight.”

It turns out, that never happened.

Gonzalez walked back the story after the Willamette Week reported last month that “in fact, emails Adams found show it was Adams’ economic development aide, Clay Neal, not Gonzalez, who picked Adams up after his China trip, something Neal has confirmed.”

But it doesn’t stop there.

Gonzalez also walked back claims that Adams exposed himself on numerous occasions at work and that he propositioned him for sex, saying instead that nothing Adams did was ever “sexual” and that he  “never propositioned him—it was just inappropriate and uncomfortable.”

Now, Adams tells local news station KGW that the Willamette Week article proves he was innocent all along, and that Gonzalez’s allegations against him were totally 100% not true.

“The Willamette Week article about a couple of weeks ago did a good job of bringing to light some of the facts that show that these allegations are false,” Adams says. “There’s more evidence to come and we’ll get that out as it becomes available.”

56-year-old Adams, who recently moved back to Portland after a stint in Washington, D.C., says he now plans to work on repairing his reputation in the city he loves.

“The allegation that was core to those claims, the accuser had to backtrack,” he says. “So, that’s just part of the evidence. There’ll be more evidence coming up. And it’s an opportunity, coming back to Portland, to present my side of the story.”

Asked whether he may run for office again, he said he hasn’t “even thought about it” and is instead focused on being a good citizen and neighbor.

“We can’t be complacent, and we’ve got to, all of us, pitch in wherever we can,” he says. “Whether that’s being in the highest elected office in the city or scrubbing graffiti in your neighborhood.”

Related: Ex-mayor outed for making staffer scout bathhouses, exposing himself at the office, and more