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Republican Mayor accused of gay sexual misconduct
May 7, 2005 8:59 PM   Subscribe

KXLY News 4 Mayor Jim West of Spokane Washington has been accused of sexual abuse of a male child. Mayor West announced in the local Spokesman Review newpaper that he plans on staying on as Mayor.
posted by Ignition (43 comments total)

 
I'm sorry, but why would this be of interest to anyone outside of Spokane?
posted by Elpoca at 9:06 PM on May 7, 2005


I was just asking myself the same question.

But then it occurred to me that maybe Mayor Jim West's parents live outisde of Spokane, so I probably shouldn't say anything.
posted by dersins at 9:11 PM on May 7, 2005


the NYT is covering it too-- ...He has opposed virtually all gay rights measures, and once insisted that a resolution praising women of all races and sexual orientation - on International Women's Day - would not pass if the reference to orientation was not taken out.

In one of his last exchanges with the fictional boy just before the newspaper stopped contact a few weeks ago, Mayor West mentioned his political future.

"Some day I may run for governor," he wrote, "and this would be bad if you know what I mean." ...

posted by amberglow at 9:14 PM on May 7, 2005


Mayor Jim West of Spokane Washington has been accused of sexual abuse of a male child

He has opposed virtually all gay rights measures

I really think that connecting these two facts is a bad idea. The "see, he's secretly gay" angle makes it look like pedophelia has something to do with homosexuality.

I'm not a board-certified psychologist, but I suspect that abuse of little boys and adult homosexuality have little or nothing in common. In order to call him out on bein g a hypocrit you have to link the two.
posted by thedevildancedlightly at 9:19 PM on May 7, 2005


I don't really like the in-your-face attitude some guys have. And the massive political agenda either.

say big fella, mind if i put my massive political agenda in your face? BWAHAHAHAHA!
posted by quonsar at 9:26 PM on May 7, 2005


I just noticed the title of the thread ("Republican Mayor accused of gay sexual misconduct"). The point of the title (why bother mentioning he's a Republican) seems to be that he's a hypocrite. Again, I would a LOT before playing into the argument that homosexuality is a disorder, like pedophelia. Making this sort of comparison also really opens the door to the slippery-slope argument about gay marriage (see, you're saying that homosexuality is just like pedophelia, and before long NAMBLA will be asking for marriage licenses).

Pedophelia = very very bad.

Homosexuality = morally neutral.

Don't imply the two are the same.
posted by thedevildancedlightly at 9:30 PM on May 7, 2005


that should be: 'I would think a LOT before..."
posted by thedevildancedlightly at 9:30 PM on May 7, 2005


He was cruising a 17-year-old. That's cutting "child" pretty close. Also, he called himself closeted, so it's clear he thinks of himself as bi or gay.

As for the relevance: every single time something like this happens, it deserves attention, especially if the subject of scrutiny is in a position to make or enforce law. Every story like it illustrates just how many of the most vociferous opponents of gay rights are motivated by their own needless shame.
posted by melissa may at 9:32 PM on May 7, 2005


NotParticularlyInterestingNewsFilter, imho, unless some more substantial accusation is made, and even then I don't really see it being "best of the web".

FWIW, if the guy is gay and a pedophile, it makes some sense for him to be anti-gay politically: he would actually have some reason to associate homosexuality with pedophilia. Not that that would mean they're associated in general, but for him the connection would be difficult to ignore when considering larger political issues.
posted by hattifattener at 9:33 PM on May 7, 2005


He was cruising a 17-year-old.

The article says 15 and 12. That's pretty far from adult.
posted by thedevildancedlightly at 9:35 PM on May 7, 2005


Oh, man -- I was looking at amber's link, not the original, where he is accused of hurting far younger boys. In any event, what a sad, sordid story.
posted by melissa may at 9:36 PM on May 7, 2005


motivated by their own needless shame

Actually, I think this guy has plenty to be ashamed of. But ashamed of being gay...not so much.
posted by spacewrench at 9:37 PM on May 7, 2005


I really think that connecting these two facts is a bad idea. The "see, he's secretly gay" angle makes it look like pedophelia has something to do with homosexuality.

I have to agree. If he was being arrested for chasing 12 year old girls, would we be equating it with adult heterosexuality? He's a pedophile, which is something entirely different. And as such he should face the legal consequences for his actions.
posted by jonmc at 9:43 PM on May 7, 2005


OK, so what we have is a closeted gay republican who campaigned against gay rights, and also is a pedophile, if we pull apart his own statement about being in the closet from the act that he has been caught in.
posted by Space Coyote at 9:46 PM on May 7, 2005


I live in Spokane, and I was actually sort of saddened to hear of this. Spokane has had a long, long list of bad mayors and city councilmen, and West seemed to be doing a professional job. He was respected by the city workers I spoke too, even though he had to announce layoffs due to budget shortfalls.

The Spokesman-Review is owned by the Cowles family, who were involved in a rather scandalous series of deals involving the city. West worked to settle several lawsuits between Spokane, the Cowles family, several accounting firms and the federal government. The city came out fairly well in the settlements, even though they found themselves short of money at the end of it. Former councilman Steve Eugster and a few others are claiming that the Spokesman outed West as payback for "winning" those lawsuits.
posted by faceonmars at 9:50 PM on May 7, 2005


This is an unfortunate day for user names everywhere.

</family guy reference! honest!>
posted by Mayor West at 9:54 PM on May 7, 2005


You disgust me.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:01 PM on May 7, 2005


In other news, NAMBLA announces new spokesperson...
posted by thedevildancedlightly at 10:08 PM on May 7, 2005


Is it just me or is everyone else starting to think that, to be a politician these days, you've gotta be a sodomite (and I wish JJ would quit saying Sod-O-Mite!!! in my head). Some go with the straight buggering of a member of their staff, some take up another notch and around the bend and bugger children, or try to, or don't stop another guy from trying to. If he's guilty then he should go to jail for a long time. Until he's proven guilty or until he's unable to effectively perform his duties, he shouldn't have to step down.

I am curious as to how he abused his powers to get into a gay chat room?
posted by fenriq at 10:09 PM on May 7, 2005


faceonmars, is anybody making a fuss about keeping the lid on it earlier? The news articles suggest that there was at least some limited knowledge about what he was up to before the Spokesman-Review got into it. That suggests the possibility of blackmail, corruption, etc.

Also, Washington state politics have been getting over-the-top bizarre these last couple of years. We've had 50/50 legislatures with no majority party (plays hell with the committee rules), a huge and still not totally settled flap over how primary elections are run, and (last but not least) a governor's race that flipped between candidates every time the votes were recounted (and it's still being fought out in the courts.)

And a little background on the Spokesman-Review -- it's a kickass good paper with a long history of bare-knuckled investigative reporting. About ten years ago, one of their offices was bombed by the Phineas Priests, a white supremacist bank robbery gang.

Eastern Washington has been threatening to seceed (splitting the state into two) for a while. Eastern Washington has been described as the "bedrock of paleopolitics" and is home to a lot of wingdings who make the Republican Party look like communists.

This should be quite a circus as the political spin meisters get cranked up.

*makes popcorn*
posted by warbaby at 10:26 PM on May 7, 2005


Local politician who has never buggered anyone on their staff (or had a staff), lusted after or sexually preyed upon any younger or otherwise vulnerable person of either sex, or cheated on my wife in any way lo these fifteen years of happy matrimony, representing!

By which I mean to say that most "politicians" are just ordinary folks who do the governing stuff behind the scenes, where it should be. As per usual, it's the ones that make a career out of it that generally deserve looking after, and not always for the sex angles.
posted by yhbc at 10:27 PM on May 7, 2005


Warbaby, apparently there were rumors about West's sexuality before last week, but nothing made it into the news media.

The morning the story broke, my coworker mentioned that Jim West was in trouble and my first thoughts were about his cancer, or his temper ( he was once investigated for leaving a death threat on a lobbyist's answering machine). West's sexual preferences and practices were the last things on my mind.
posted by faceonmars at 11:28 PM on May 7, 2005


Mayor Jim West of Spokane Washington has been accused of sexual abuse of a male child

He has opposed virtually all gay rights measures

I really think that connecting these two facts is a bad idea. The "see, he's secretly gay" angle makes it look like pedophelia has something to do with homosexuality.


I really think that connecting these two "facts" is a bad idea.
The "see, he's been accused so he's guilty" angle makes it look like accusations necessarily imply some measure of truth. I'm not saying it isn't true. Let's wait for a court to decide. (Aw, I know, no fun)

And blimy, I'll say it again.

Pedophelia = very very bad.

Homosexuality = morally neutral.


Pedophilia = sexual preference demonized (if rightly so) by our society.

Homosexuality = sexual preference demonized (if unfairly so) by our society.

Don't talk to me about bad in terms of morality unless you want to get into:
i) the difference between thoughts and actions, and
ii) issues of consent (which is what makes acting on pedophilia bad, because children cannot consent, otherwise it's on the same moral ground as a shoe fetish IMHO)
posted by dreamsign at 11:51 PM on May 7, 2005


Addendum:

Do I really need to remind anyone here that disgust is not some determinor of morality?

And no, I have no interest in others of my same sex, or of children. But obviously there is more to compare there than those here would admit -- in your reactions to them.
posted by dreamsign at 11:54 PM on May 7, 2005


Warbaby, I have to agree.

God, I love Washington State. Thank You for putting me here.
posted by spinifex23 at 1:48 AM on May 8, 2005


pretty flimsy evidence here ... a 15 year old "interpreted" a question as asking for a date? ... a 12 year old makes an accusation against a man who's conveniently dead?

there are other more current issues going on with this mayor, but these two accusations are pretty weak

jonmc - I have to agree. If he was being arrested for chasing 12 year old girls, would we be equating it with adult heterosexuality?

there is a danger here ... but intelligent people should be equating it with repressive religious activism, not any particular kind of sexuality ... after all, similar controversies have erupted over heterosexual law makers who fooled around on their wives
posted by pyramid termite at 5:54 AM on May 8, 2005


Exactly my thoughts, pyramid termite.
I don't see any evidence that he ever abused anybody.
In the incident that took place 25(!) years ago, the victim was abused by someone else and merely vaguely accuses West of covering up the incident, not of molesting him.
posted by sour cream at 6:32 AM on May 8, 2005


In the incident that took place 25(!) years ago, the victim was abused by someone else and merely vaguely accuses West of covering up the incident, not of molesting him.

Enablers are even worse. pedophile are mentally ill. Rational folk who cover up for them are not sick. They are making a deliberate rational choice to let a predator roam.

Not that I can judge the veracity of the accusation but I am just saying pedophile are sick and can't control themselves - the person who covers up for them has no such excuse...
posted by srboisvert at 7:08 AM on May 8, 2005


Rational folk who cover up for them are not sick. They are making a deliberate rational choice to let a predator roam.
[emphasis mine]

*does double take, chuckles*
posted by quonsar at 9:10 AM on May 8, 2005


this from Americablog is hysterical: ...In a wide-ranging interview Wednesday night, West acknowledged he’d recently begun to seek out young men on the Internet and said he couldn’t explain why. “I don’t want to go into the whole issue, but I wouldn’t characterize me as ‘gay,’.” West said.

Shades of Roy Cohn.

Also, the stuff about young kids is not proven; the stuff about him trolling Gay.com for sex is.
posted by amberglow at 9:46 AM on May 8, 2005


Notably, he also admitted to having sex with adult males. In light of his well-publicized stance on anti-gay legislation, you have to wonder how many different skeletons are going to have to be dragged from various politicians' closets before people start to realize that for many of these men, it's not about the wholesomeness and sanctity of the American family, it's about political power.

Hypocrisy should have been one of the Ten Commandments.
posted by deusdiabolus at 9:56 AM on May 8, 2005


"Spokane Mayor Jim West confided to a city councilwoman Thursday that he masturbated in his City Hall office during an online chat on a gay Web site." [The Spokesman Review | May 08, 2005]
posted by ericb at 12:39 PM on May 8, 2005


Worst thread ever.
posted by nthdegx at 1:04 PM on May 8, 2005


Having grown up in Spokane I can only say that it is kind of a fucked up place. Not necessarily bad, but entirely different than any place I've been since.

Spokane politics is basically like high school politics, but with much higher stakes.
posted by gambit at 3:44 PM on May 8, 2005


Andrew Sullivan: ANOTHER ONE: By now, we're used to finding out that many of the most ferocious homophobes on the right have gay offspring - Phyllis Schlafly, Alan Keyes, Pete Knight. Now we discover that others are actually tortured gay men themselves. I feel bad for the mayor of Spokane. I don't like the witch-hunts of these conflicted, desperate, if often malicious people. But the Roy Cohn syndrome of closeted gay men persecuting others is, alas, a real one. And it reaches far beyond Spokane into the highest echelons of the Republican party.


The highest echelons? Do tell.
posted by amberglow at 4:56 PM on May 8, 2005


The highest echelons? Do tell.
posted by amberglow at 7:56 PM EST


That's what we're hoping Gannon/Guckert is gonna do.
posted by nofundy at 5:05 PM on May 8, 2005


Guckert won't talk--there's nowhere on Earth he'd be safe.
posted by amberglow at 5:31 PM on May 8, 2005


Is there any chance innocent until proven guilty still exists in the United States? No? Okay...
posted by sdrawkcab at 8:37 PM on May 8, 2005


' Is there any chance innocent until proven guilty still exists in the United States? No? Okay...'

I'm not sure what you mean. Mr. West has stated that he has chatted on gay chat sites. That's what most people here are talking about. They seem to mostly be waiting for more evidence on the child molesting thing, which is twenty some years old, after all.
posted by faceonmars at 11:27 PM on May 8, 2005


Is there any chance innocent until proven guilty still exists in the United States? No? Okay...

Or that you should read links before posting? No? Okay...
posted by iamck at 9:37 AM on May 9, 2005


tons of updates at AmericaBlog--he's really in trouble
posted by amberglow at 5:53 PM on May 9, 2005


Republican Jesus weighs in
posted by amberglow at 9:01 PM on May 10, 2005


I'm confused why the term 'pedophile' is in use here. The guy in the chat room was 17. Old enough to go to jail in many states, without a waiver. Old enough to say 'yes', old enough to marry. So where's the child?

There were accusations in the story I read of his abusing his authority years ago, as a sheriff's deputy, getting it on with prisoners or something like that.

That he's closeted and queer is clear. That he's an evil bastard is clear. But chasing after 17 year olds is no indication of pedophilia.

I've no problem with the investigative technique used by the newspaper. Exposing the truth about politicians is an honorable deed.
posted by Goofyy at 2:40 AM on May 11, 2005


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