Oregon gubernatorial candidate apologizes for remarks on domesti - KPTV - FOX 12

Oregon gubernatorial candidate apologizes for remarks on domestic violence

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Dr. Bud Pierce (Portland City Club/KPTV) Dr. Bud Pierce (Portland City Club/KPTV)

Oregon gubernatorial candidate Dr. Bud Pierce is taking some criticism for remarks he made about domestic violence during Friday’s debate with Gov. Kate Brown, and while he has apologized, some critics say his words don’t go far enough.

A question from the audience on issues facing Oregon women, including the pay gap with men and sexual and domestic violence, sparked statements from both the sitting Democratic Governor and her Republican challenger.

In his response, Pierce said, in part:

“A woman that has great education and training and a great job is not susceptible to this kind of abuse by men, women or anyone. Powerful women have access to lawyers and courts and go at it. But the women who are most vulnerable are poor women who don’t have a place to turn because they don’t have shelter, they don’t have family around them. So I would argue that, in addition to strong laws and going after every sexual predator and every abuser, the way we can make women have a better existence and be less susceptible to being harmed is to make them powerful in terms of their job and their opportunity because women that are in a safe place, whether within a family or independent, and have resources have ways of protecting themselves, and when you have no resources you’re very vulnerable.”

His comments came moments after Brown came out publicly at the debate as a survivor of domestic violence.

Monday, community leaders and state lawmakers gathered to condemn Pierce’s remarks. They donned purple ribbons to mark October as Domestic Violence Prevention Month.

“Educated people, employed people and wealthy people experience domestic violence too,” said Rebecca Alexander, a spokesperson for Bradley Angle, a nonprofit serving victims of domestic violence and abuse in Portland.

Advocates say new data shows that more than half the women in Oregon – 1 million people – have been victims of sexual assault or domestic violence. Some 700,000 of those have experienced domestic violence at the hands of an intimate partner, marking some of the highest rates in the country.

“We are here today to make one thing clear: A person who says a better education or a better job can cure these systematic problems has no business leading our state,” said State Representative and former Gresham Police Chief Carla Piluso.

Hours after Friday’s debate, Pierce apologized for his comments in a written statement shared with FOX 12.

“As a physician who began medical school almost 40 years ago, and has seen many patients including women of domestic violence, I know that any women, regardless of economic status, can be subject to domestic violence and sexual abuse. Sexual and physical abuse is morally wrong, is against the law, and must be opposed with all efforts.  

An article recently published in OPB (Report: Oregon Has Very High Rate of Female Sexual Assault; By Chris Lehman, OPB Sept 21st, 2016) states that over 50 percent of Oregon women have been sexually abused, that Oregon women have the second highest rate of so-called "asset-poverty" in the nation, and that nearly half of all Oregon households led by women don't have enough financial resources to meet basic needs for three months in the event of a job loss. Women living in severe poverty may be prevented from separating from their abuser because of economic dependency.

What can be done? Continue to do everything possible to change our culture to one that respects all individuals, and does not tolerate nor condone any abuse. Lift the fortunes of the poor so that they never feel compelled to remain in an abusive relationship for economic reasons. And more needs to be done to focus on the critical problem which is the unfortunate culture of a segment of men and women who resort to this despicable behavior against their partners. We must find more ways to educate and mitigate the root problems. Women who are caught in abusive relationships are victims, that is a fact. We can and must improve the safety of all citizens, and especially our women. Women who are victims in these situations are not at fault and should not be blamed for being in a dangerous situation. I am a strong supporter of women's rights, equal pay for women, and for the empowerment of all Oregonians, women included.

I apologize to Governor Brown and anyone else who may [have] taken my comments the wrong way.”

Stacey Kafka, the spokeswoman for Pierce, resigned from her position on Friday because of the comment he made during the debate.

The governor's campaign responded to the incident by saying:

“Dr. Pierce showed that he's not just out of touch with Oregonians, he doesn't exhibit even a basic understanding of the problems women face, regardless of their education level or income. As Governor Brown noted, she and countless other women from all walks of life have experienced domestic violence."

The two candidates are set to face-off again in Eugene on Thursday in the third of five scheduled debates before the general election in November.

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