Investigation of groping is put aside

Schwarzenegger drops vow to pursue allegations

December 10, 2003|By Peter Nicholas and Joe Mathews | Peter Nicholas and Joe Mathews,LOS ANGELES TIMES

SACRAMENTO - Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is dropping a plan to hire a private investigator to examine allegations that he groped at least 16 women over the past three decades.

The governor is busy with the state's budget crisis and doubts that such an inquiry would appease critics, Rob Stutzman, communications director for Schwarzenegger, said Monday.

Because of that, he has decided not to look into the charges himself as he promised to do in the final days of the recall campaign, Stutzman said.

"The governor, in talking with counsel and advisers, concluded that there was very little point to the investigation," he said.

"The issue has become quite too political. He has apologized and continues to be sincerely sorry for anyone he has offended, but also thinks the time has come to move on.

"There's a lot of important work to do here. That's what he's completely focused on. He's doing the work as governor that the people have sent him here to do."

The decision became public the same day one of the women who had accused Schwarzenegger of groping her sued him and his campaign for libel.

The libel suit involves an e-mail that Schwarzenegger campaign spokesman Sean Walsh sent to reporters after the woman made her allegations. The e-mail advised reporters to type the woman's name into a court Web site. Doing so produced a report on a lengthy criminal record, which was reported by some news organizations as belonging to Schwarzenegger's accuser.

The criminal record, however, did not belong to the woman who made those allegations but to others who had the same name but not her birth date.

As the suit indicates, at least some of Schwarzenegger's accusers seem unlikely to let the question of his conduct disappear from public view.

The Los Angeles Times is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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