SEATTLE -- U.S. Sen. Brock Adams abruptly dropped his re-election campaign yesterday and announced an end to a 31-year political career after a newspaper published the stories of eight unnamed women who accused him of 20 years of persistent physical assaults, sexual harassment and misbehavior.
One political activist told the Seattle Times that Mr. Adams drugged and raped her. Two other accusers said that Mr. Adams molested them after drugging them or offering them a suspicious drink.
None of the cases was reported to the police, and the newspaper said that it had departed from its standards in the use of unidentified sources because its 3 1/2 -year investigation uncovered allegations that pointed to a pattern of "abuses of power and women."
Seven of the eight accusers signed statements for the newspaper and are prepared to go to court if necessary, the Times said.
Appearing yesterday afternoon at a news conference, Mr. Adams said that "this is the saddest day of my life. I have never harmed anyone."
A Democrat, Mr. Adams is a former U.S. secretary of transportation elected to the U.S. Senate in 1986. He was already facing a difficult re-election this year as the result of previously aired allegations that he drugged and molested a young female aide in 1987, a highly publicized matter in which no criminal charges were brought.
The 65-year-old senator called the current allegations "politically inspired" and said that he could not answer them because his accusers remained anonymous. Upon reading the story, Mr. Adams said, "I was horrified. That was not me. That was created out of whole cloth by people who hated me."
Mr. Adams said he would serve out the remainder of his term and then bring to a conclusion his career in public life.
The Seattle Times said that the accusations it published in a long front-page account -- and in accompanying detailed testimonials -- were the result of women coming forth to tell their stories and others being tracked down by reporters.
The women said the assaults and harassment occurred from the 1970s through 1987.
The most serious accusation was leveled by a former Democratic Party activist.
In the early 1970s, when Mr. Adams was serving in the U.S. House of Representatives, the woman said, she was invited to a Seattle bar by Mr. Adams. She recalled suffering from a cold and said Mr. Adams handed her two pills, calling them vitamin C. She said she now believes they were some kind of drug.
The woman said that Mr. Adams insisted on following her home '' and, once inside, pushed her onto a couch and raped her.
He then departed, the woman said, leaving her $200 to pay her way to a Democratic Party function across the state. She said she did not press charges.
"When a guy has that much power, there's nothing you can do about it," the woman told the newspaper.
Many of the women told friends or family about the incidents, and the newspaper said it verified the stories with these other sources.
Mr. Adams' wife of 40 years, Betty, sat at his side yesterday. She said, "The picture you have in this article is not my husband."