Multnomah County’s sheriff, Bernie Giusto, called a draft report from the state: “false and misleading” Thursday. The draft is part of an investigation into how much Giusto knew about the sexual abuse of a 14-year-old girl by former governor Neil Goldschmidt — back in the ‘70’s.
As Kristian Foden-Vencil reports, Giusto broke his silence on the report Thursday to say his rights to ‘due process’ are being violated.
What Giusto knew and when — about Goldschmidt’s sexual abuse — is important because, as a police officer, it’s his duty to investigate such issues — even if they involve powerful people.
It’s also important because it might shed light on what Governor Ted Kulongoski also knew about the case, and when.
Kulongoski put Goldschmidt on the State Board of Higher Education in 2004 — a move that looks extremely inappropriate if he knew Goldschmidt had committed statutory rape.
Kulongoski has maintained that he didn’t know anything until the day before the story broke in 2004.
The sheriff has said he only heard rumors of the abuse after the statute of limitations for the offense had passed. But the draft report, released by investigators this week, suggests he knew more.
Giusto is angry people are jumping to conclusions before the full report is released.
Bernie Giusto: “Even as an elected official, I’m entitled to some basic due process rights, including a fair and objective administrative process – free from the taint of sensationalized reporting.”
The state did warn against drawing conclusions from the preliminary report. After all, it does not contain any rebuttal from Giusto.
But spokesman Eriks Gabliks says the agency had no choice but to release the document because it got ‘freedom of information requests’ from The Portland Tribune and The Oregonian.
Eriks Galiks: “Our agency doesn’t have an exemption from the public records law for active investigations, that other agencies do. So some other agencies do not release draft reports or investigations until they are completed.”
At his press conference Giusto said at least one part of the draft report is ‘false and misleading.’ For example, it says Goldschmidt’s speech writer, Fred Leonhardt, told Giusto in 1989, that Goldschmidt sexually abused his 14-year-old babysitter. The report says those assertions are corroborated by Goldschmidts’ wife, Margie.
Bernie Giusto: “That false and misleading claim is not supported by or consistent with the transcript of Margie Goldschmidt’s actual interview. To the contrary, Margie Goldschmidt’s statements to the investigators actually contradict Leonhardt’s assertions. Those important details are often lost in headlines, but those details are critical to understanding the facts in this case.”
Giusto says he will present his version of events to investigators by a November 16th deadline.
The report will then go to the Police Policy Committee, which could pull Giusto’s police credentials for dishonesty.
It’s unclear exactly what that would mean for the sheriff. He has been elected to his post and doesn’t necessarily need the credential to remain in office.