Friday, May 6, 2005

Another Family Values Role Model

Via AMERICAblog, from the Spokane, Washington Spokesman-Review:

For a quarter century, the man who is now Spokane’s mayor has used positions of public trust – as a sheriff’s deputy, Boy Scout leader and powerful politician – to develop sexual relationships with boys and young men.

One man, Robert J. Galliher, claims in a court deposition that Jim West molested him in the mid-1970s when he was a boy and West was a Spokane County sheriff’s deputy and Boy Scout leader.

A second man, Michael G. Grant Jr., also accuses West of sexual abuse during the same era, including an incident at Camp Cowles, a Boy Scout camp on Diamond Lake.

In addition, an investigation by The Spokesman-Review has revealed that 17 months after leaving the state Legislature, West has used the trappings of the mayor’s office to entice and influence young men he met on a gay Web site.

On one recent occasion, West offered a man he believed to be an 18-year-old – whom he met online at Gay.com – gifts, favors and a City Hall internship, Internet dialogues retained by the newspaper reveal. The 18-year-old was actually a forensic computer expert working for the newspaper. (See related story.)

Last June, West went on a dinner date with another 18-year-old he met in the same gay chat room. The young man, initially unaware of his date’s identity, paid for dinner, and then was allowed to drive West’s blue Lexus convertible. The evening ended with consensual sex, the 18-year-old told the newspaper.

Rob Galliher has accused Jim West and David D. Hahn, who were Spokane County sheriff’s deputies at the time, of child molestation in the 1970s. (Brian Plonka/The Spokesman-Review)

West, interviewed Wednesday evening at the newspaper, called the allegations leveled at him by Galliher and Grant “flat lies,” but he admitted having private online relationships in the past year through Gay.com.

Asked if he had ever abused a child, he responded: “Never. Never. Absolutely not.”

Asked about the claims of Galliher and Grant, West said, “I didn’t abuse them. I don’t know these people. I didn’t abuse anybody, and I didn’t have sex with anybody under 18 – ever – woman or man.”

“My private life is my private life, and always has been,” the mayor told two Spokesman-Review reporters and a photographer.

“There’s been a strong wall between my public life and my private life,” West said Wednesday.

He admitted offering an internship in his office, sports memorabilia he’s collected, help with college admissions, and trips to sports events and Washington, D.C., to a man he believed was an 18-year-old he met online at Gay.com. But he emphatically said he didn’t view those offers as “enticements to teenagers” or an abuse of his public office.

“Any kid in this town who walked into my office and filled out an application and could come to work, dressed properly and clean, could be an intern in my office,” the mayor said.

Later, asked about his private life, he said: “I wouldn’t characterize me as ‘gay,’ but he didn’t distance himself from the term “bisexual.”

“The Gay.com thing has only been, I can’t recall, but it hasn’t been very long,” West later said when told the newspaper had learned about his online aliases “Cobra82nd” and “RightBi-Guy.”

“I can’t tell you why I go there, to tell you the truth … curiosity, confused, whatever, I don’t know,” the mayor said.

No, I wouldn’t characterize him as “gay,” either. I wouldn’t want a hypocritical self-loathing sexual predator like that calling himself by a term I use to describe myself and my friends. He may be homosexual, but gay he ain’t.

Oh, and that line about his private life being “my private life,” well, yes — and I do hope that he stood that same ground when President Clinton was being impeached. What are the chances of that, do you suppose?

In reading the entire story the worst part of this is that Mr. West, in suppressing his own true self and oppressing others like him, has perpetuated the climate of fear and loathing in our society, and he has only himself to blame. That is not just sad; it’s evil.