Goldschmidt’s announcement spurs a series of reactions

Former Oregon Gov. Neil Goldschmidt resigned last week from hisposition as chair of the State Board of Higher Education and from achief position in the buyout of Portland General Electric, afterannouncing Thursday he had had a sexual relationship with a14-year-old girl during his stint as Portland mayor in themid-1970s.

He also cited health reasons as a cause for both hisresignations and is taking a sabbatical from his law firm,Goldschmidt Imeson Carter.

Goldschmidt’s resignation came right as the higher edboard began to plow ahead with plans for a trust fund-like plan forfinancial aid for Oregon residents at state universities.

Current Gov. Ted Kulongoski announced Friday that he will act aschair of the board until a replacement for Goldschmidt can befound.

In a statement, Kulongoski said, “The board must reconnectpostsecondary education to its statewide mission: access,excellence, targeted investments and reinvestment by the state.That is my mission and I intend to lead the Board in thatdirection.”

Kulongoski, who overhauled the higher ed board last November,said he will work with board members to choose a suitablereplacement for Goldschmidt.

The Governor also mentioned in another statement that he was”surprised, saddened and upset” after learning of the sexualrelationship between Goldschmidt and the 14-year-old girl. “Thereis no excusing his actions.”

Portland Mayor Vera Katz also came out with a statement,expressing her support of Goldschmidt – a longtime friend – bothwith his health and in dealing with the backlash from hisannouncement.

In 1975, when the affair occurred, sex with anyone under the ageof 16 constituted third degree rape, or statutory rape. However,the statute of limitations was three years at the time. Goldschmidthas said he does not expect any legal charges in the now almost30-year-old matter.

He is under scrutiny by the Oregon Bar Association and may bedisbarred or have his law license suspended. The association’sofficials are considering a case to look into the matter as aviolation of the disciplinary rules, which prohibit professionalmisconduct, including, “a criminal act that reflects adversely onthe lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness or fitness to practicelaw.”

Goldschmidt’s new absence from public life now leaves governmentand business leaders scrambling to fill the void.