In December 2012, Moey Newbold, a 23-year-old environmental nonprofit worker in Bend, was chatting with an acquaintance at a bar.
Then, she said, he groped her.
“He slipped his hand down my pants, under my underwear, and I froze,” she said. “He was touching my butt cheek.”
The man, Newbold said, was current Bend City Councilor Nathan Boddie, a Democratic candidate for one of the most hotly contested seats in the Oregon Legislature.
Newbold said she felt compelled to come forward after other allegations against Boddie surfaced last month. Those prompted the political action committee set up by Oregon House Democrats, FuturePAC, to withdraw support from Boddie after “serious allegations of inappropriate behavior.” Newbold’s accusations against Boddie are unrelated to those that prompted FuturePAC to pull their support from their own candidate.
FuturePAC declined to release details about their own investigation or who was involved, with PAC leaders saying they wanted to protect the person or people who came forward.
Boddie told OPB he was unaware of the incident Newbold described in recent interviews.
“This is the first I’m hearing of anything like this,” he said.
When asked directly whether he groped Newbold, Boddie said, “No, I don’t know anything about that.”
Boddie is a physician vying for the seat now held by Rep. Knute Buehler, the Republican nominee for governor.
Democrats have a voter-registration edge in the district and party leaders viewed the Central Oregon seat as a pivotal race in their quest to gain a supermajority, thus making tax increases easier to pass. Right now, the Democrats need one more seat.
Boddie called the accusations against him “unsavory.”
“It’s unfortunate this is what’s going on,” he said. “But we have to keep our eye on the ball, and we keep the campaign doing what campaigns do.”
OPB spoke to a handful of people who corroborated Newbold’s version of the events six years ago. They said she shared her story with them long before the other allegations against Boddie surfaced.
Allison Morgan, who attended Vassar College and lived in Bend at the time, said Newbold shared the story the day after Newbold says it happened.
“I remember her just feeling really gross and bad … All these typical things women are trained to think about when we’re assaulted, just kind of how it could have potentially been her fault but it absolutely wasn’t,” Morgan said. “For years after, I would go into certain places and see if he was there so Moey could prepare for that because it was very difficult to be in similar spaces again with that person.”
Kori Sparks, a co-worker of Newbold’s at Central Oregon LandWatch, said Newbold shared the story with her last year.
“We were hanging out, relaxing after work, and it came up. She shared it with me, and it was horrifying,” Sparks said, adding she thought highly of Boddie before hearing Newbold’s account. “It was really upsetting.”
Newbold quickly left the bar after the incident, she said. At the time she was so taken aback, she froze. The next morning, she said, she texted Boddie.
“I felt super violated and disgusted,” Newbold said. “And I texted him and said, ‘Don’t ever do anything like that again’ … and he responded, ‘Well, you do have a nice ass.’”
Boddie said he has no plans to drop out of the House race, despite the lack of support from his party’s political action committee and several other lost endorsements.
Jenn Baker, FuturePAC’s executive director, said the move to pull support for Boddie was unprecedented. The group sent Boddie a letter saying he was accused of engaging in sexist behavior, using a homophobic slur and promoting the illegal consumption of alcohol.
As a result of the allegations, Boddie has lost support from a coalition of left-leaning groups.
“Despite wild claims of various strategic and financial disagreements made on the part of the Boddie campaign, FuturePAC’s decision to withdraw support had to do solely with his alleged conduct and nothing else,” Baker wrote in an email. “The allegations made today further strengthen our resolve that the decision to withdraw support from Dr. Boddie was the right thing to do. We will never compromise our values in order to win an election.”
Kim Freda contributed to this report.