Sam Adams, Portland Mayor, Admits Relationship With Teen Following Year Of Denial

02/19/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

PORTLAND, Ore. — The mayor of Portland apologized Tuesday for lying about a sexual relationship with a male teenager he was mentoring three years ago, but asked the city to consider it an anomaly in two decades of public service.

"I screwed up. I blew it. There's no way to sugarcoat it," Mayor Sam Adams said during a City Hall news conference scheduled after he cut short a trip to the presidential inauguration in Washington, D.C.

Adams was elected easily last year, making Portland the largest U.S. city to elect an openly gay mayor. He was sworn in Jan. 1.

Rumors of the relationship had surfaced when the then-city commissioner was getting ready to run for mayor in 2007, but he and the teen both denied it at the time.

In a statement he released Monday confirming the relationship, Adams said he lied then because the rumors claimed the teen was underage. He said the relationship did not begin until after the teen turned 18 in June 2005. That is the legal age of consent in Oregon.

At the time, the teen was a legislative intern whom Adams mentored on being gay and in public service. He is now 21 and has not made any public comments acknowledging any relationship with Adams. He did not return a request for comment Tuesday from The Associated Press.

In his City Hall remarks, Adams said their relationship was inappropriate because of their age gap; he is 45.

And he admitted he asked the teen initially to deny the relationship. "I am deeply sorry that I asked him to lie for me," he said.

Adams stressed the issue is about a public official lying, not sexual orientation, and he would work to regain the public's trust.

"I will be subject to greater scrutiny because of this, and that is appropriate," he said.

"My reputation has been impacted. Friendships have been impacted, and that's appropriate as well."

Adams said he would cooperate in any investigation. He said he has no plan to resign, but left open the possibility: "If it were no longer in the city's best interests that I stay, yes, I would resign."

Commissioner Randy Leonard, who defended Adams when the rumor surfaced in 2007, has now called for an investigation. Leonard's chief of staff, Ty Kovatch, voiced concern about Adams' decision to ask the teen to lie.

"It reveals a much more strategic and planned effort to mislead people," Kovatch said.

Leonard said he believes Adams can continue as mayor _ unless "further omissions and discrepancies" emerge.