By The Skanner News | The Skanner News Published: 17 October 2018
October 12, 2018
Dear Commissioner Smith:
You should be ashamed of yourself. For your own selfish political interests, last week you disgraced the many courageous women who in recent months have come forward with legitimate complaints of sexual harassment and assault. Your recent public comments about me falsely implied that I previously engaged in some kind of serious sexual misconduct against you. You know that it untrue and far from anything close to truth.
Specifically, you said: “He swung his hips the same way he had when he had made the suggestive and offensive remarks that led to his being fired from the Mayor’s office. He was happy to move his hips in front of me again.” Your stunning mischaracterization of the situation, including your reference to the situation that occurred in 2013, is grossly misleading and deeply upsetting to me, my reputation and my legacy.
And most troubling, you recklessly made those accusations with absolutely no concern over how your false accusations would harm me. I and my family have been traumatized because people who know me, my son and grandsons often comment on how respectful we are.
In my opinion, your actions against me now and in 2013 were motivated for purely political, selfish reasons.
But first, let me set the record straight.
- In June 2013, at a public gathering, I made a public gaffe by commenting on your appearance. My introduction of you at the reception was meant to be a “shout out” to you because I had always extended that courtesy to any elected official when I served as a master of ceremonies.
- When I made the comment, I did not “swing my hips” as you have stated. (In fact, the only person who claimed I did so has confided in me that she was pressured to make that false claim to make me look bad.)
- I meant no harm – but understand that it was an inappropriate comment in that political setting of grass-roots community leaders discussing diversity.
- I admitted my mistake, I called you to apologize and, when you did not respond, I wrote you an apology. You never, ever responded.
- I was not fired for my comment (nor have I been fired from any job). I did not violate any law, state or federal.
- We have never met privately and have only spoken over the phone when you initiated a call to me for political favor or support, which you most recently did earlier this year. I have never propositioned you, never asked you out for a date or ever even touched you. Any interactions between us have always occurred in a public setting.
- After the incident, a group of women that I have worked with voluntarily wrote a letter to the mayor to support me, stating among other things that: “We know him to be a man of integrity and honor. We know him to be a man who loves Portland and who had worked professionally and privately to better the lives of our citizens. The Baruti Artharee we know is and has been respectful of people of all ages, colors, sexes, orientations and beliefs.”
- I am respectful of women and very proud of the relationships I have had with the women that I worked for, the women that I have worked with and the women that have worked for me. My track record in the promotion of diversity and inclusion for all people is almost unmatched in the public and private sectors.
I will no longer be silent and allow you to attack me with vengeful innuendos, misrepresentations and outright lies. I will show up, speak up and stand up at any community and political forum as I see fit. You will not silence me.
Baruti L. Artharee