From the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:
Embattled Mayor James West said yesterday he will take a leave of absence to defend himself against a newspaper’s allegations of recent abuse of office and decades-old child molestation.
An hour after West said he would leave his post “for a few weeks,” The Spokesman-Review posted a new story on its Web site alleging that the mayor offered city jobs to two young men he met through a gay Internet chat room — and that one of them briefly accepted a city appointment.
The newspaper last week launched a series of articles about West after hiring a computer forensics expert who posed as an 18-year-old male high school student in Internet chats with West on Gay.com. West offered the “teen” a City Hall internship, tickets to professional sporting events and other gifts, the newspaper reported earlier.
West is a former Republican state Senate leader and was an opponent of gay rights.
In his brief announcement yesterday to the City Council, West said the allegations printed in The Spokesman-Review in recent days were false and that he would take his first vacation since taking office in January 2004 to prepare a response.
“I hope that you and the people will reserve judgment on me until the newspaper is done persecuting me and allow me to have the fair opportunity to respond to each of the allegations in due time,” West said in brief remarks at the beginning of the council meeting.
He left without taking questions. He did not immediately return an Associated Press call for comment on the newspaper’s latest allegations.
Oh, yeah — the newspaper is the one who set him up with the screen names “Cobra82nd” and “RightBi-Guy” on Gay.com. It was the newspaper that hired the young gay men he met on-line to work in the mayor’s office. And it was the newspaper that drove him to stalk a man, Ryan Oelrich, to the point that he is going public with the allegations, including a $300 offer from West to have Oelrich go skinny-dipping with him.
In a way I feel sorry for Mr. West; he obviously has repressed his homosexuality to the point of desperation, but that doesn’t excuse blaming someone else for your own behavior. Blame your strict family upbringing, blame your fundamentalist church, blame an uptight society, or blame your own political ambitions, but don’t blame the people who caught you doing something you knew was both hypocritical with your public image and a lie to your own self. Be a man and stop making excuses for the way you are.