Oct 2, 2003

One more reason not to vote for the Schwarzengroper from Mark A. R. Kleiman


California gubernatorial candidate Arnold Schwarzenegger responded today to allegations by six women that he groped them inappropriately over the last three decades by acknowledging that he had "behaved badly" in the past and saying he was "deeply sorry."

"And so what I want to say to you is that, yes, I have behaved badly sometimes," the actor said in front of supporters in San Diego. "Yes, it is true, that I was on rowdy movie sets and I have done things that were not right which I thought then was playful, but now I recognize that I have offended people. And those people that I have offended, I want to say to them, 'I am deeply sorry about that and I apologize, because this is not what I'm trying to do.' "

GOP operative K. B. Forbes called it "unprecedented" for a candidate to admit to sexual harassment allegations and noted that former Oregon Sen. Bob Packwood was forced to leave the U.S. Senate over similar charges. "This may be a fatal blow to the Schwarzenegger campaign," said Forbes, a former aide to onetime gubernatorial candidate Bill Simon Jr. "Not only is this about women, it's about decent Californians who expect some kind of leadership -- not only moral leadership, but just basic decency.…You're not going to get redemption with a simple apology."

Conservative activist Steve Frank added that he was horrified by the report and Schwarzenegger's subsequent admission of improper behavior, and fears it may sour the public on the entire election. "He may have brought down the whole recall," said Frank, who has not endorsed a candidate in the election. "He announced that he was a lifelong serial harasser. The conservatives didn't like Bill Clinton for doing this, and we would be hypocrites to approve of Schwarzenegger doing this."

In Los Angeles, CodePink, a nonpartisan women's peace organization, called for Schwarzenegger to withdraw from the race. "We believe Arnold can be stopped and we believe that women are going to stop him," organizer Karen Pomer said this afternoon. "I was physically ill when I read the [L.A. Times] article today, and believe me, I've read a lot of stuff about Arnold." "I don't care if you're a Democrat, Republican or Green -- this is beyond any partisan politics," she said, adding that the allegations would amount to sexual battery under state law. "Anyone else would have been in jail."

And in Sacramento, state Democratic Party spokesman Bob Mulholland said today's events should give voters "pause" before voting for the actor. "You've got to be outraged when Schwarzenegger says, well, it was on movie lots. Guess what? Movie lots are not sovereign nations," Mulholland said.
Women Say Schwarzenegger Groped, Humiliated Them
Six women who came into contact with Arnold Schwarzenegger on movie sets, in studio offices and in other settings over the last three decades say he touched them in a sexual manner without their consent. In interviews with The Times, three of the women described their surprise and discomfort when Schwarzenegger grabbed their breasts. A fourth said he reached under her skirt and gripped her buttocks. A fifth woman said Schwarzenegger groped her and tried to remove her bathing suit in a hotel elevator. A sixth said Schwarzenegger pulled her onto his lap and asked whether a certain sexual act had ever been performed on her.

According to the women's accounts, one of the incidents occurred in the 1970s, two in the 1980s, two in the 1990s and one in 2000. "Did he rape me? No," said one woman, who described a 1980 encounter in which she said Schwarzenegger touched her breast. "Did he humiliate me? You bet he did."
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