State Rep. Wingard leaves leadership post after sex allegation

State Rep. Wingard leaves leadership post after sex allegation »Play Video
FILE - Rep. Matt Wingard, R-Wilsonville. (KATU News File photo)

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - State Rep. Matt Wingard stepped down Wednesday as deputy Republican leader in the Oregon House after a former aide accused him of pressuring her to have a sexual relationship three years ago and supplying alcohol to minors.

Wingard apologized in a statement Wednesday evening, saying he should not have entered into the relationship. He did not address the woman's allegations that he pressured her to have a relationship and supplied alcohol.

"It is my sincere hope that through honest dialogue, dignity, professionalism and humility that I can work to maintain and build upon the trust that the voters in my District have placed in me as their representative," Wingard said.

Authorities at the Oregon Department of Justice closed their investigation without filing charges after the woman, now 23, said the sex was consensual.

According to the investigators' report, the woman told authorities in January that Wingard pursued her while she worked for him during the 2009 legislative session. She said Wingard would ignore her if she didn't agree to his requests to have dinner or to send explicit text messages. She said she felt like Wingard was punishing her, so she complied to avoid a hostile work environment.

The woman said she had a sexual relationship but she ended it and she eventually quit her job. She also told investigators that Wingard would frequently host parties at his house and provide alcohol to minors, and that she attended several of them before she was 21.

The woman said she tried to put the incidents behind her but called Department of Justice investigators after running into Wingard at a wedding and a political function. In their report, investigators wrote that the woman appeared uncomfortable and that she told them she had never discussed the allegations in detail. She said she did not want to file a report or be a victim.

Investigators concluded the sexual relationship was not a crime because the woman consented to it, and the statute of limitations had run out on alcohol charges.

The allegations were first reported Wednesday in Willamette Week.

Rep. Kevin Cameron, the House Republican leader, released a statement Wednesday saying GOP lawmakers take the allegations seriously.

"This is a personal issue between Rep. Wingard and another individual, and it's something that he's actively working to resolve," Cameron said. "However, as with any workplace, our caucus does not approve of inappropriate relationships between officials or managers and their subordinates."

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.