News, Oregon, politics

Oregon House Speaker Rayfield says Stout should resign after judge upholds restraining order

This story originally appeared in the Oregon Capital Chronicle on May 9 and is republished here under a CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 license. Read more stories at oregoncapitalchronicle.com.

House Speaker Dan Rayfield called on Republican state Rep. Brian Stout to resign Tuesday after a Columbia County judge upheld a restraining order against him. 

Stout, a freshman from Columbia City, has been contesting for months a five-year restraining order brought by a former campaign volunteer who alleged he sexually assaulted her and threatened her life. Columbia County Circuit Court Judge Cathleen Callahan upheld the order Tuesday, writing that the woman who accused Stout was credible and Stout was not.

In a 13-page letter to attorneys representing both parties, Callahan summarized months of court hearings. The former campaign volunteer, who the Capital Chronicle is not naming because she’s a victim of sexual assault, began a relationship with Stout in 2020. She described a relationship that was violent early on, including a threat from Stout to push her over a cliff at Multnomah Falls if she told anyone about the relationship, pressuring her to engage in sexual acts she wasn’t comfortable with and touching her inappropriately in public. 

Stout’s wife interrupted one encounter, and the woman ended the relationship after that, the letter stated. Witnesses described gossip spreading through the small city and seeing Stout intimidate the woman at events. Stout claimed that the woman stalked him and his family after the breakup, an allegation Callahan didn’t find credible. 

“Petitioner and respondent began a friendly relationship and when petitioner ended it, respondent pursued her after the breakup. When that approach failed, he began confronting the friends who were supporting petitioner,” Callahan wrote. “Respondent then amplified the bullying by the malicious and unjustified harming of petitioner’s reputation.”

Stout then “switched to playing the victim,” Callahan wrote. 

Rayfield said in a statement Tuesday that he has been deeply troubled by the allegations against Stout since they surfaced. He removed Stout from committees before the session began following Willamette Week’s reporting on the initial court order

“The behavior described in the judge’s order does not align with the values of the House of Representatives,” Rayfield said. “I no longer believe he can effectively serve and should therefore resign. Whether he makes that decision or not, he will remain without any committee assignments.”

Stout still is able to vote on bills and speak on the House floor. Rayfield talked with Stout on Tuesday, he told reporters. 

“I was very direct with him,” Rayfield said. “He can make the decisions on how he wants to operate in this world and whether he chooses to stay or not, and allow the voters to make the ultimate decision in two years if he chooses to run.” 

Stout recited a prepared statement when reached by phone.

“While always respectful of the judicial process, I strongly disagree with the recent ruling on the hearing, and I’m currently spending some time in review,” he said. “Additional conversations and reflection with my family and community will be ongoing over the next few days and following weeks.”

House Republican Leader Vikki Breese-Iverson, R-Prineville, declined through a spokeswoman to say whether she agreed that Stout should resign. Instead, she shared a one-sentence written statement: “Representative Brian Stout is reflecting on the court determination with his family and community.”

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