PORTLAND, Ore. - Embattled Mayor Sam Adams went further Tuesday in his apology for lying about having sex with an 18-year-old, saying the relationship was inappropriate but he had no plans to resign.
However, Adams was not defiant, saying the public would decide his fate.
"If it's no longer in the city's best interest for me to stay on, yes, I would resign," said Adams during an exhaustive news conference that lasted nearly an hour.
The 45-year-old mayor flew back to Portland from Washington D.C. to address the issue after the Willamette Week newspaper broke the story about Adams' untruthfulness Monday afternoon.
The mayor, who was sworn in Jan. 1, reiterated on Tuesday his apology to Portlanders for not coming clean about the issue when it first arose during the infancy of his mayoral campaign in 2007.
The teen, Beau Breedlove, was 17 when Adams first met him in Salem in 2005. Adams said he waited until Breedlove was 18 before dating him. The relationship, which included sex, lasted only a few months, the mayor said.
Rumors later surfaced that Adams had sex with a minor, and the mayor said he initially lied about the relationship because he did not think people would believe the sex occurred when the teen was 18.
Adams also asked Breedlove to lie about the relationship, even though the mayor said the teen urged him to be honest about it.
The issue died down following Adams' denials, and he coasted to victory in November to make Portland the largest U.S. city to ever elect an openly gay mayor.
On Tuesday, Adams said even though the relationship was legal and consensual, he believes it was a "serious error."
"It was inappropriate for me to have a sexual relationship with an 18 year old, and I want to apologize to the community to have done so," Adams said.
To make amends, the mayor said he planned to continue to answer questions about the issue as truthfully as possible.
"I'm ashamed and humbled and humiliated, and I think that's absolutely appropriate for something like this," said Adams "All I can do now is admit my mistake and error and try to be an example of someone who tries to make amends."
For his part, Breedlove also issued a statement to the media on Tuesday, apologizing for past lies about his relationship with Adams. READ THE FULL STATEMENT
"While my first instinct was to tell the truth, I also wanted to protect Sam Adam’s (sic) reputation, considering our valuable friendship," Breedlove, now 21, said in the statement.
He also defended the mayor, saying he has always been a positive influence and friend to him.
"I hope this subject can ultimately be put to rest," Breedlove said in the statement, "and I sincerely believe in Sam Adams and what he can do for the city of Portland as Mayor."
Community reaction mixed
The reaction of colleagues and city employees to the controversy was mixed.
A supporter of Adams in the past, City Commissioner Randy Leonard told KATU Tuesday he thinks an outside agency should investigate whether Adams actually had sex with Breedlove when the younger man was a minor.
"What I am having a hard time with, quite frankly, is that he asked the young man to lie about it," Leonard said. "I can't understand that, and I'm troubled by that."
Meanwhile, the leadership of the Portland Police Association, a union that represents all 900 of the city's uniformed police officers, called for Adams to resign immediately.
Mitch Copp, who spoke on behalf of the group's president, said Adams no longer has any credibility.
On the other hand, newly elected City Commissioner Amanda Fritz came to Adams' defense during his news conference, saying there was not a person in the room who had not made a mistake and tried to cover it up.
If we are honorable, we fess up and we work really hard to make amends, said Fritz, who appeared angry.
Fritz also chided the media, saying attention on the issue was overshadowing the importance of both the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday and the inauguration of the nation's first black president.
An official with Basic Rights Oregon, a nonprofit working to end discrimination based on sexual orientation, said Adams "exercised poor judgment" but was still worthy of support.
"We continue to have confidence in Sam’s leadership and his vision for the City," said Jeana Frazzini, the group's executive director, in a statement. "Portland needs Mayor Adams to stay in office and keep working for our city.”
EDITOR'S NOTE: Our original story about the Adams controversy generated more comments than almost any other story posted on KATU.com. To read it and the comments, click here.