When Willamette Week first published a story detailing that Neil Goldschmidt had raped a young girl I didn't want to believe it. On my blog, I cautioned people not to not rush to judgement without hearing all the facts. Willamette Week had gotten stories wrong before, I warned (which led WW editor Mark Zusman to track me down in St. Louis where I was attending seminary in 2004 with a series of e-mails and phone calls expressing, well, I'll politely call it dismay).
But Willamette Week got this story right. It turned out that the man so many admired - the man whose campaign for governor I volunteered on as a high school student, who wrote me letters of recommendation to college - was a sexual predator. Willamette Week did the public a great service by breaking the silence and bringing Goldschmidt down.
Now, as has been widely reported, Goldschmidt's victim has died. The Oregonian has a story today which tells her side of the story (a story they waited to publish until she died after a life of hell set in motion after Goldschmidt began abusing her) and she included a final request: don't disclose my name. The Oregonian honored that request.
WW, on the other hand, published her name online last night. In doing so, they dishonored her memory and subjected her to one in a last line of indignities. WW defends their decision by saying Goldschmidt shouldn't be allowed in the end to steal her "identity." That choice should have belonged to her and not WW. Abuse victims will think twice before coming forward if they believe they will be identified in the paper against their wishes. I don't question their motives in naming this woman but do question their judgement.
The final indignity, of course, came from Goldschmidt himself. He offered The Oregonian a statement for their story in which he claimed that the allegations of abuse against him "vary substantially from the truth." The former mayor and governor expressed remorse but then went on to accuse the dead woman whose life he left in tatters of lying about their relationship. At one time, he called that relationship an "affair." It was rape. A 35-year old man raping a 13-year year old girl. That is the truth no matter how Goldschmidt tries to spin it. In his statement this week, he raped her again.
His is the name that should rightfully be erased from history. If only wishing made it so.