OR-Gov: Sifting through Dudley's defense of alleged child molester

Carla Axtman

In 2007, Lake Oswego swim coach Don King was accused of multiple felony and misdemeanor counts of sexual abuse of minors. King pled not guilty to the charges and although the jury said that they were bothered by King's actions, they couldn't find him legally guilty of the charges, so he was acquitted.

As part of the accusations and charges against him, King was suspended from his job as swim coach with the Lake Oswego School District. After his acquittal, King attempted to gain reinstatement to his job. On September 22, 2008 the Lake Oswego School Board held a meeting in which a hearing was conducted to consider the reinstatement. At that hearing, Chris Dudley testified as a witness for King:

Chris Dudley – Mr. Dudley has known Mr. King since the mid-1990s when he was at Lewis and Clark and Mr. Dudley was first on the Blazers. Mr. Dudley is currently in wealth management, has a foundation for diabetes, and also serves as a volunteer citizen coach for the LOHS boys basketball team. Mr. Dudley resides in Lake Oswego and has three children—ages 9, 8, and 6—all of whom have been coached by Mr.King. Mr. Dudley noted that Mr. King assisted him when he had to rehab in the pool following an injury when playing for the Blazers. Mr. King assisted Mr. Dudley with water exercises that had therapeutic value, as well as some manipulation of his body. Throughout his 16-year career in the NBA, Mr. Dudley had experience with trainers, therapists, doctors, licensed massage therapists, etc., as well as people who were good in the therapy process but did not possess credentials. He stated that he feels Mr. Kings is knowledgeable about trigger points, muscle structure, tension relief, etc., in massage therapy and acknowledged that the type of physical interaction he experienced from Mr. King would make him uncomfortable in any other context/setting if he was to receive it from anyone other than his wife. Within the context in which Mr. King provided massage therapy to Mr. Dudley, Mr. Dudley indicated that he did not consider it sexual or harassing in nature. He characterized Mr. King as a caring individual and felt valued and cared about at an emotional level. Mr. Dudley’s perception of Mr. King is that he thrives on connection with other people. Mr. Dudley stressed that Mr. King truly cares about his swimmers and strives to ensure that everyone he works with improves. Mr. King coached all of Mr. Dudley’s children, as well as many of their friends. He observed Mr. King having children on his lap, having his hand on the clothed buttocks of children, and pulling children over by hooking a finger on the inside of a bathing suit, as well as other nurturing, emotionally connective interaction with children (boys and girls) of all ages. Mr. Dudley conceded that he would have been uncomfortable observing any coach other than Mr. King perform these actions with his children if he was unfamiliar with the person and/or context.

The Lake Oswego School Board disagreed with Dudley, the Chair doing so in very strong terms:

Chair Lopardo stated that she does not so easily buy into the “grandfatherly” explanation. She noted that information about sexual abuse, touching children inappropriately, etc., has been in the press for probably 20 years, emphasizing that someone involved in working with children should be well aware that these kinds of behaviors are a definite “red flag.” As a School Board member, Chair Lopardo stated that she does not feel she can do anything other than support the administration’s decision to terminate Mr. King’s at-will employment contract and noted that she is not in agreement with the rest of the Board to give further consideration to Mr. King’s usage of the district pool for his private King Swimming program.

King's request to be reinstated to his job as swim coach with the Lake Oswego School District was denied. Unanimously. Later, King admitted to Joel Odom of The Oregonian that he was "handsy" with kids.

About a month later, King abandoned his effort to retain his swim coach credentials with USA Swimming, the body which governs U.S. competitive swimming. He did so after three women came forward alleging King sexually abused them as teenagers.

USA Swimming revoked King's membership saying, "King is permanently banned in any, all, and every respect from being a coach or member of USA Swimming,".

As I read through these articles and the subsequent comments from community members, it's clear that a good number of folks had legitimate concerns about King. Dudley's defense is odd, to say the least. Especially given how elected officials and members of the community, including a jury, had significant worries about King's behavior. Dudley's own parenting instincts seemed to be telling him that something wasn't quite right, based on his testimony to the School Board, yet he still defended King because of the "context". I'm having trouble figuring out what "context" lends appropriateness to slapping young girls on their barely clothed buttocks and physically handling young swimmers in the ways described.

This is simply terrible judgement on Dudley's part. Either that, or he was easily snookered. Neither is especially great prospect.

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    And so it begins. The Liberal attack machine. So much for the presumed superiority of John Kitzhaber on the issues. You guys must be running scared to start with this stuff in June.

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    If I wanted too, I’m sure I could go back in history and find a statement of support from John Kitzhaber about child molester Neil Goldschmidt. Besides, aren’t you supposed to be saving this all up for the usual “October Surprise” ploy?

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      Are you claiming that John Kitzhaber had knowledge of Goldschmidt being a pervert and despite his "uncomfortable" observations about Goldschmidt?

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    And just what, exactly, are we to draw from this, Carla? A guy offered his observations and comments about a man he had had years of experience with.

    I'm no Dudley fan (he's too inexperienced for me), but I think this is a reach for you.

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    Nothing fair and objective like a liberal with a mortgage. Pretty pathetic, Carla, even by blogger standards. I hope you get paid up front.

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    While I won't vote for him, this info has no bearing on this race, IMHO. It sounds like he was merely articulating his experiences. Our system depends upon people being willing to speak up truthfully, without fear of repercussion.

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    It is very nice to read the comments of those who are on the other side of the political fence from Dudley, but who recognize a blatant attempt at a smear job here, and are willing to call it out.

    Carla, you have outdone yourself. Really.


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    There are so many ways to go at Dudley based on his inexperience in government work and his ideas that I'm disappointed to see this post which addresses neither.

    I get where you're going, Carla, but it still feels...off, somehow to me. Maybe it's just too early in the campaign for me for this type of post.

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      It seems to say, at the very least, something about Dudley's judgment and lack of sensitivity as a parent and patient/client of King's.

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        Exactly! Nobody is claiming or even suggesting that Dudley deliberately gave cover to a pedophile. His testimony before the LOSD probably was quite sincere. Indeed that appears to be what Carla suggested in the post.

        It is possible to be both sincere and wrong. And when that happens, the judgement of that individual is, pretty much by definition, called into question.

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    I guess we know who took that last poll seriously.

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    oh carla you wicked wicked woman...how could you write something so so horrible about the republican nominee? he's such a great guy and represents such a classy party w/ super awesome values. these right-wingers really do deserve much better treatment. they just don't get the respect they deserve.

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      Isn't this almost always the case. Those accused of such crime tend to lead a "double" life where the people who know them best are totally unaware of the secret life the person is leading.

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        Keep in mind that Dudley's defense of Don King happened AFTER King was arrested, charged, and yes, acquitted.

        This was not a minor story in the local press at the time. Lots of Oregonian stories, lots of LO Review stories.

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      At best it demonstrates "undeserved loyalty". At worst, it shows a disregard for his own human instinct and for the very strong concerns being articulated by members of his community.

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        This, I think, goes to a core concern here. As you say, it appears that Dudley disregarded his own instincts, to whatever degree and however slight it may have been (to give him the benefit of the doubt).

        If the degree of self-honesty of a candidate for high public office isn't germane then I'm not sure what is.

        A Governor has to make some tough calls, sometimes with less than as much hard data as he/she would like. At that point that governor's instincts become all the more important because they're going to be making decisions on behalf of every citizen of Oregon.

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      Really, Jeff? This is vintage attack, and I'm not surprised to see our local attack dog at it again. The breathless adjectives and suggestive language. The lack of any substantive information. The claim that this is just all above board, just information, do with it what you will ...

      Let's take a critical look at Carla's response to the criticism already.

      Carla claims that Dudley "surrounds" and "associates" himself with King as if King is some sort of member of Dudley's inner circle.

      Fact: King was a swim coach in the district where Dudley's children attended and also acted as a private swim coach for many in Lake Oswego.

      Carla claims that Dudley shows "a disregard for his own human instinct and for the very strong concerns being articulated by members of his community."

      Fact: Dudley gave testimony at a hearing. Apparently, he should have lied or been dishonest because otherwise he would have been "disregarding" the "concerns" being articulated by others. (What she means by his "own human instinct" is unclear unless she has some sort of omniscience about Dudley's state of mind.)

      I am not even sure why this is bad judgement. Dudley had an opinion about an acquaintance who coached both him and his children. His opinion differed from others. This is about someone who was NOT convicted of any crimes.

      Do we really want politicians who consider their political futures over everything else, including giving honest answers when asked questions about the behavior of people they have known?

      I guess this is just politics. But like Mitchell and Mel and Rob and Jonathan, I find this distasteful, unnecessary, and completely irrelevant to my judgment about Dudley's qualifications for governor.

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          "It was a bad decision by Dudley to defend this guy at all." Except Dudley didn't "defend" they guy at all.

          In Axtman's world, you should not give honest testimony of your own relevant, first hand experiences when asked. Instead, you should judge for yourself and LIE or withhold evidence.

          Here's Axtman's claim: that whether or not to tell the truth is a JUDGMENT CALL. Whether or not to give accurate statements about your own experiences is a decision to be made (by Axtman) based on what the accusation is.

          I've often felt leftists have a disturbingly malleable vision of what justice is. Here we see it laid out: Axtman would deny an accused person her own honest testimony. Thank God that's still a minority position, even on the Left.

          When you're accused of something, Carla, you're going to hope others have more courage than you're showing.

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            Except that Dudley himself very clearly couched his testimony, within his testimony (!!!!!), as a judgement call.

            So either your motive for posting this was just to blindly denigrate someone you disagree with politically... or you are glibly ignorant.

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            Tom: That's exactly what Dudley did. He testified at a hearing, defending King in an effort to help King get his job back.

            If the "truth" for Dudley is that the guy is perfectly safe around kids, then given the entire context of this story, Dudley has made an absolutely horrible judgement call about this man.

            In Cox's world, its perfectly acceptable for Dudley to support this guy because he told the truth about him....and that's it??? It doesn't matter than women came forward to say King molested them when they were girls? It doesn't matter that the LO School Board found King so objectionable that they refused to give him his job back?

            Courage is standing up and doing the right thing, Tom. Why is it that so many conservatives discard that in favor of some tin foil idea of courage? We all deserve so much better than that.

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            Very well said! Thank you! everyting dudley said sounded truthful and sincere and only expressed his ooinion based upon his experiences with Coach King. BTW he was let go from his coaching position because of all of the press and the simple fact that for the LO people involved keeping him would have been bringing scrutiny and heat to their great swim program and they preferred to fade the heat and give their children a chance to enjoy the whole swim team experience without worrying about where the next "Axt job" or hatchet job might be coming from next.

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        I notice that your listing of "facts" were carefully parsed down to just those that support your argument. Indeed, your first listing, if taken at face value, begs the question of why Dudley would even have testified on King's behalf... if his connection to King really was as tenuous as you make it sound like.

        Be that as it may, I'm troubled by what appears to be the inference that citizens ought only consider those data points which a particular candidate may wish to have considered.

        It seems to me that, under our system of government, citizens have a duty to question - or at least be open to questioning - the judgement of any and all candidate for office... and all the moreso for those candidates for high public office since their decisions will affect many more citizens.

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        Paul, really.

        Carla has written an opinion piece on a partisan political blog. It is sourced and accurate, and she has written it under her own name. There's nothing improper about it at all. Nothing.

        Politics ain't beanbag, as the saying goes. Dudley, much like Carla, must stand in the public square and answer critics. Carla has questioned him, you have questioned her (in some of the same language you yourself find objectionable when targeted at Dudley), and round and round it goes.

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        What she means by his "own human instinct" is unclear unless she has some sort of omniscience about Dudley's state of mind.

        It is pretty straight-forward. Dudley had misgivings about how King was physically interacting with the kids around him when he the board noted that "Mr. Dudley conceded that he would have been uncomfortable observing any coach other than Mr. King perform these actions with his children if he was unfamiliar with the person and/or context."

        So even Dudley himself acknowledged that what he saw King doing he would normally be uncomfortable with. Hence Dudley not following the instinct that what King was doing was not right if another person was doing it, yet he ignored it, rationalized it, then gave character testimony in defense of a guy who later admitted was having sex with under-age kids.

        Seems pretty clear to me.

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        I wish I could give this 10 Likes

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        Where's the mud?

        Carla could have suggested that Dudley somehow approves of child-molesters, but that's not what she did. She focused squarely on the issue of his judgement and that alone. Heck, she even provided him with some personal character cover by observing (correctly IMHO) that Dudley's own instincts appeared to have been correct viz King, but that he ignored them.

        Did you read any of the links in her post? King was recorded by police in a phone conversation with one of the women as conceding that he'd had sex with. But he went to some pains to try to set that aside by claiming that it wasn't about the sex for him. That rather, his motivation had been the intimacy between himself - a grown man and swim coach - and the then-teenage girl who was on his swim team.

        It's not as if we can't reasonably assertain whether or not he in fact has abused his position as a swim coach by engaging in the very sorts of sexual concerns to which Dudley testified that he didn't think were sexual. King admitted having sex! Highly, incredibly inappropriate sex!

        Here's the thing: By my reading of the chronology here, Dudley agreed to give (and then gave) his testimony before any of the California women came forward. We all make mistakes, including misreading the character of those we think we know well enough to stake our reputation upon. I personally would be favorably inclined if Dudley were to now, in the 20-20 of hindsight, aknowledge that perhaps he'd made a poor decision in backing King.

        That wouldn't undo his previous testimony. But it would demonstrate the capacity to take in new information and use the increased data to arrive at new conclussions. As opposed to... oh... say... Dubya! It would also demonstrate that his sense of right and wrong is stronger than his desire to win a coveted political office.

        Politically I don't like Dudley. But as a Blazer I truly loved watching him do his thing. He was the epitome of a blue collar guy's kind of player... mixing it up, sacrificing body for game/team... taking body shot after body shot from sometimes taller, almost always heavier star centers from opposing teams... and without resorting to the usual prima-donna, drama-queen idiocy we've come to expect from so many of the egotistical stars of the NBA.

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        Paul, again, given the kind of dirty tricks that play out constantly in politics--unattributed smears, push polls, etc--this is HARDLY the least of anything. I mean, you might have a point if she were insinuating something that's not true, but for the love of Mike--no one's arguing the facts.

        Seems like you'd prefer politics stay on some kind of pure level of intellectual discourse. All I ask is that everyone keeps it clean, transparent, and accurate. Carla has, full stop.

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          Jeff, there is a big difference between "pure level of intellectual discourse" and mud slinging.

          Carla is an effective opp researcher. I don't think she does this to Dems, she does it to Reps. It's unfortunate that politics requires such dirty work, but I recognize that it does.

          What I object to more is the shocked! shocked! attitude when someone calls this for what it is.

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        Smear and win or ride the high horse and lose. Welcome to politics.

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          That should be "smear back and win ..."

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          These last few comments reminded me of this quote about Obam's mid term startegies as a disciple of Saul Alinsky

          "Rather than win through superior ideas and policies, the Democrat plan for success in the mid-term elections is to win by destroying political opposition.

          Obama adheres to the Saul Alinksy Rules for Radicals method of politics, which teaches the dark art of destroying political adversaries."

          Alinsky himself refers to the use of "Carefully orchestrated media campaigns, carried out by friendly, leftwing journalists, would float the ideas" (being used to destroy the poltical competition) (sort of like carla in this example)

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      well ...only because up until now in oregon it always has been a democratic governor or candidate for governor who was having sex with children(Goldschmidt)...thas all

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    One reason Republicans can get so many people to vote against their own interests is because they don't worry about news stories which may or may not be unfair to progressives.

    If your a progressive that likes it when progressives win elections, you may want to spend less time bickering about whether this blog post is unfair or unethical and possibly spend your time doing something to help the cause.

    Elections aren't about being nice or being fair, they are about winning. Keep your eye on the prize people.

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      What evidence do you have that Republicans get people to vote against their interests? You do know that the Frank thesis on Kansas has been utterly disproven, right?

      I don't think elections are ONLY about winning. They are also about a set of beliefs, values, and ethics.

      If not, then then absolutely anything goes, as long as you don't get caught. Nixon believed that. I don't.

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        Let's start with people that will never be subjected to the estate tax voting to abolish it and thereby gutting the funding for public services they rely on (be it public education to core services like police and fire) shall we?

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    Oh yeah Joshua. The end justifies the means, and if we adopt the ethical code of our opponents we won't get muddy, because.....because....what? God is on our side?....Nah, that's the other guys....

    Oh, and I put in about seven unpaid years working my butt off and donating money to people and organizations that I consider to be at best the lesser evil. For that effort, I got Obama and Kulongoski. Don't need the lecture on getting to work....but thanks for caring and sharing.

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      Yeah Joshua. We wouldn't want people to actually talk about stuff that might show poor judgement on the part of the GOP candidate for Governor.

      We'd all best clutch our pearls and run for the fainting couch now.

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      First of all, I don't see this post as being unfair and nobody is arguing to "adopt the ethical code" of the right wing.

      And yes Pat, sometimes the end justifies the means. Do you like tax cuts for billionaires?

      Carla may get a little muddy, but Dudley, the Republican nominee, has a chance of getting a lot muddier.

      It doesn't matter how much time or money you spent doing whatever, tearing down one our best soldiers is not time well spent...at least from a progressive perspective.

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    In a political campaign, nothing is off the table. I don't blame Carla for bringing this up.

    That said, I think was Chris did was admirable. He testified as a character witness for someone he knew and gave his honest opinion about the person's character. That it was an accused (but, let's not forget, acquited) sex offender showed courage on Dudley's part and I respect him for doing it.

    As for the partisanship, let's be honest about this. If John Kitzhaber stood up for an accused child abuser, Carla would be praising it as a courageous and principled stand while a lot of Republicans would be bashing him.

    Meanwhile, I very much respect those who don't support Chris who nonetheless aren't taking the bait here. There is hope for Oregon politics after all.

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      I don't think you know Carla as well as you think you do. She has a long history of demonstrating complete willingness to take on Dems.

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      What "bait"...? Dudley made a very bad judgment call. Do you dispute that?

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        Of course I dispute that. There is no evidence that Chris acted in bad faith or that what he testified to was untrue. Why is is bad judgment?

        Remember, he wasn't the decision maker here. He was asked to offer testimony as to what he knew and what his honest assessment was based on his personal knowledge and observations. He did that.

        I don't regard it as bad judgment to tell the truth, even when it's unpopular.

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          So you dispute that Dudley was wrongly ignoring the misgivings he would normally have had if anyone other than King was touching the kids the way King was?

          So Dudley didn't really misjudge King when he thought that King's touching the kids wasn't inappropriate when in fact it really was inapropriate since in the end it turned out that King was having sex with underage girls?

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            You don't know that he was having sex with underage girls. All you know is that he was accused of it. You are really getting into David Wu land here very quickly if allegations alone are enough to determine guilt more than 20 years later.

            And none of those accusation had surfaced at the time Dudley testified in any event. As for the allegations that had been made at the time Dudley testified, King had been found not guilty.

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              You know that there are three women who came forward to say that King was having sex with them when they were under age. It's linked in the piece, Jack. (See the fourth paragraph from the bottom as well as the link in the following paragraph). King confirms in a taped conversation that he had sex with one of the women (King claims she was "older"). One of those women was interviewed as part of the LO School District process before King's reinstatement hearing. They knew about her, and at least one other woman at the time Dudley testified.

              Also at the time Dudley testified, there was more than enough evidence to get the unanimous decision from the LO School board to not reinstate King to his position. So much so that the Chair of the School Board vehemently came out against not only that reinstatement, but even allowing King to work at the pool as part of his private business.

              Clearly there was more than enough disturbing activity involving King to warrant keeping him out of his public job working with kids.

              Dudley made a very bad call defending this guy. If Kitzhaber had gone on the public record defending Goldschmidt against the charges levied against him, it would be just as relevant.

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                I'm not challenging the relevance, I'm disagreeing with the conclusion. After listening to all of the testimony, the Lake Oswego school board made its decision. Chris simply testified based on his own experiences and observations.

                There is certainly no evidence that he knew about the women whose experiences were more than 20 years earlier. Even if it turns out that Chris was wrong about the guy, it still doesn't prove he exercised bad judgment in reaching the conclusion he did based on the information he had.

                Since this was 2008, it's likely Chris was already considering a possible political career at the time. In my book, that makes it even more remarkable that he was willing to stand up and be counted.

                I think it would be refreshing to have a governor with the courage to say what he honestly believes even when it isn't popular.

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                    I know you can't see any other way to see this than the way you see it, Carla. That's your blind spot.

                    I actually think you did a good job of digging this story up and putting it together. If we lived in a world where journalism still existed, a story like this wouldn't have to be posted on a blog.

                    But after doing a good job of putting together a story and making your case and, yes, expressing your own viewpoint, you still sincerely can't see how anyone can see this any way other than the way you see it.

                    And that's why you will always just be preaching to the choir. Because that's really all you want to do.

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                      Thanks for the compliments, backhanded though they are.

                      As we both know (and have discussed both privately and publicly), I have no problem going after both sides and I have no problem looking at issues from other perspectives.

                      But there are incidents and issues where the outcome is obvious. Pretending that another "side" has merit, just because it exists, doesn't make it appropriate or even something that makes sense.

                      If that makes me someone who is only capable of "preaching to the choir", so be it.

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    More tiresome, political substance-free, partisan crapola from Blue Oregon and specifically Carla. So a Lake Oswego parent--like literally dozens of other LO parents--stands up in defense of a coach he had come to trust and believe in, who, based on the accusations made, was guilty of ill-advised physical contact rather than molestation, as the verdict would indicate. And this means...what, exactly? All of those parents exercised horrible judgment, but because Dudley's running for office it's particularly relevant to how he'd do the job? Did the jury exercise horrible judgement? Because it sounds like they reacted in much the same way: squeamishly, feeling like King's actions were too close for comfort...but were ultimately not criminal.

    There is so much to discuss that does not favor Dudley in Oregon. I don't have the faintest idea why this is an important story, other than it's important to the author to find anything possible in order to question the candidate's character.

    Is he really an alleged molestor, if no actual "allegations" have been made to the justice system?

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      Is he really an alleged molestor, if no actual "allegations" have been made to the justice system?

      Nobody is making the assertion that Dudley was a molester Mark. Congratulations for slaying that man of straw.

      BTW, as you well know given that Carla was a co-founder of your blog Loaded Orygun, and who was one of the major reasons I used to read it, she is hardly a political substance-free nor tiresome writer. Quite the opposite actually.

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      Read the links provided, Mark. In fact allegations have been made to the justice system, or rather to its necessary precursor - the law enforcement system.

      The allegations aren't actionable, not due to lack of substance or failure of a legitimate crime having taken place, but due to statutory time limitations in California. The man was recorded by police admitting to having had sex with the woman he was on the phone with and who in fact was a minor (and one of his swim students) when he had sex with her.

      Furthermore, if you'd read the provided links then you'd know that lots and lots of "grooming" went on before King had a victim in a situation where he could talk her into letting him have sex with her. And lets be honest here, that's exactly what it was. Nobody has alleged that any of the girls came on to him. It wasn't about THEIR sexual gratification, it was about his... After he'd spent a lot of time doing seemingly innocent things such as the very sorts of behavior Dudley testified to observing. Which is why it's called "grooming".

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    Jeeze, I am just now getting to this entry. If you ever were around King you knew right off he was inappropriately "handsy," which is something Dudley implictly stated in his statement in support. Since I have no intention of voting for Dudley, at all, I tuned out on what this had to say about his potential judgment as governor.

    However, as an old line feminist, I did pick up from this the familiar patriarchal support for the male, in authority, with "hands," not the child, even when I have no reason to think to the contrary, Dudley is a family man with young chldren. (His statement about being touched where only his wife otherwise would be allowed to go, was just an image that I did not want. Bizarre.) In short, his patriarchal attitude certainly lowered his credibility in my eyes. Nothing more, nothing less.

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    I certainly appreciate the effort Carla put into trying to create enough smoke so she could yell 'fire" but when I read what Dudley said about King it hit me as being exceptionally honest and truthful and balanced. He acknowledged that he could understand how a person not familiar with King and who didn't have the benefit of knowing who he was might be uncomfortable with his coaching style clearly indicating that he did know King well and was not at all uncomfortable with him or the way he interacted with his kids. Since King is NOT a molester as far as anyone has ever alleged or proven then I would say that Dudley's judgment is right on the money. He basically was saying that everyone is entitled to their own opinion but so was he. I didn't read anything that Dudley was saying as an endorsement of Kings familiar style of coaching nor did I interpret what he said to imply that he was condemning him for it.

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    Wow,lots of Conservative trolls come out when you deign to impugn their Golden Child, Dudley.

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