Rep. David Wu (D-Ore.) announced Tuesday he will resign from Congress following accusations he had unwanted sexual contact with a teenage girl.
“I cannot care for my family the way I wish while serving in Congress and fighting these very serious allegations,” Wu said in a statement.
Wu claims the incident with the daughter of a longtime friend and donor–who is now 18 years old–was consensual, and said he will continue to serve until the resolution of the debt ceiling battle.
Wu for months faced intense pressure back home to resign following reports of his erratic behavior. Prior to today’s announcement, he tried to deflect such pressure by stressing that he was undergoing mental health treatment. On Friday, Wu’s problems deepened when The Oregonian reported on the allegations over the unwanted sexual encounter.
House Democrats on Sunday called for an ethics investigation into the incident, increasing the public pressure on the seven term congressman to leave office. Wu at first indicated he would simply retire in 2012, and would not resign.
Wu disclosed in July 2010 that he had stopped drinking. He was legally separated from his wife the following month. This past February, the congressman admitted to receiving mental health treatment following reports of his bizarre behavior.
Due to Wu’s perceived vulnerability, a competitive 2012 race had already been taking shape in his 1st District. State labor commissioner Brad Avakian began campaigning for the seat in April and has been joined by state Rep. Brad Witt for the Democratic nomination. The seat overall leans Democratic.
PORTLAND, Oregon (Reuters) – Democratic Oregon Congressman David Wu has been accused by a teenage girl of an unwanted sexual encounter, and has called the accusation “very serious.”
News reports said the young woman is the daughter of a campaign donor and high school friend of the seven-term Congressman.
The unnamed accuser is from Orange County, California and graduated from high school in 2010, the Oregonian newspaper reported.
“This is very serious, and I have absolutely no desire to bring unwanted publicity, attention, or stress to a young woman and her family,” Wu, 56, said in a statement obtained by Reuters on Saturday.
Reuters contacted Wu’s office, but his spokesman declined further comment.
David Swanson, an Irvine, California attorney and spokesman for the girl’s family also declined to comment.
Wu is the first Chinese-American elected to the House of Representatives.
The Oregonian reported that Wu told his staff the alleged encounter with the teenager was consensual.
Several of his staff earlier this year listened to a distraught voice mail left by the young woman, accusing Wu of aggressive and unwanted sexual behavior, it said.
The newspaper did not name the young woman or its sources for the story.
Wu’s behavior has in the past drawn criticism.
In February he announced that he was undergoing psychiatric treatment after his staff complained about his erratic behavior in the run up to the November 2010 Congressional elections.
They said Wu had behaved strangely at meetings and had e-mailed pictures of himself wearing a tiger suit to staff. Several key staff members resigned following the election.
In 2007 he gave a speech on the House floor comparing Bush administration officials to members of a fictional alien race on “Star Trek,” saying “There are Klingons in the White House” sending “real Americans to war.”
Two Democrats have already announced they will seek Wu’s seat in the next Congressional election.
(Editing by Tim Gaynor and Mary Wisniewski)