Packwood apologizes, says he won't resign

December 11, 1992|By Tom Bowman | Tom Bowman,Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON -- Oregon Sen. Bob Packwood, accused o making unwanted sexual advances toward 15 women, apologized yesterday but refused to answer specific questions about his conduct or resign.

"My actions were just plain wrong," the Republican lawmaker said at a Capitol Hill news conference, his first public appearance since the charges surfaced last month.

"I just didn't get it," he said. "I do now."

But he refused to say whether his admission meant that the allegations were true and declined to discuss any of the charges.

"I'm apologizing for the conduct that was alleged that I did, and I say I'm sorry," he said. "I'm not going to get into every allegation nor do I know what allegations may fall from the sky."

Answering shouted questions in a calm, lawyer-like fashion, he also would not discuss news reports that both he and his staff tried to gather damaging information about the alleged victims before and after an article on the allegations appeared in the Washington Post on Nov. 22.

L "I'm simply not going to get into that," he said repeatedly.

Packwood said he would cooperate with the Senate ethics committee, which has mounted a preliminary inquiry into the allegations.

"I will fully cooperate with the ethics committee and whatever they ask," he said. "I am not going to resign under any circumstance. . . . I ran on some very specific things I want to get done."

The news conference sparked a furious reaction from representatives of women's groups in Oregon and Washington, criticizing the senator for not being more open. They predicted it would increase pressure for him to resign.

"I thought it was appalling," said Holly Pruett, executive director of the Oregon Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence. "He refused to take responsibility for his actions."

The 60-year-old senator, a strong advocate of women's issues who was just elected to a fifth term, arrived in Washington after spending a week at an alcoholism treatment center. Before entering the center he hinted that alcohol might have played a role in his behavior. But yesterday he moved away from that view.

"My conduct here is the issue. Alcohol is not a defense," he said. He said he is uncertain whether he is an alcoholic and would continue with counseling.

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