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Smith downplays 1993 misdemeanor charge

Portland mayoral candidate Jefferson Smith told reporters Tuesday that a 1993 incident in Eugene should not become a factor in the race.

"I wouldn't expect voters to vote for who I was 20 years ago," said Smith, who nevertheless insisted that he had done nothing wrong.

According to Smith, he was at a party when he accidentally injured a woman and was cited for misdemeanor assault.

Smith said he was defending himself from the woman and the injury occurred when they were both moving towards each other. He declined to describe the injury or identify the woman.

Smith said the case was settled before the woman decided whether to bring charges against. He could not remember the exact amount of the settlement.

Smith said he would probably have been acquitted if the case had gone to trial, but would have had to drag other people at the party into it who wanted to remain private.

Earlier in the day, Willamette Week reported on its website that Eugene police had cited Smith for misdemeanor assault in 1993 when he was a student at the University of Oregon.

According to the story, the citation grew out of an incident with a woman at an off-campus party. Police and the Lane County District Attorney's Office dropped the matter after Smith settled with the woman out of court.

Although no reports could be found on the incident, Smith and others at the party said the woman was sleeping on a couch that someone other than Smith knocked over. The woman apparently blamed Smith and physically attacked him, hitting him repeatedly. Smith said that while trying to defend himself, he caused an injury to the woman.

Smith's story was confirmed at the press conference by Lara Larson, a high school friend who was at the party. She said Smith did "what anyone would do" to defend himself.

Smith said he did not know how Willamette Week got the story, but implied that "powerful interests" were trying to stop him from bring elected mayor. He declined to identify the interests.

Smith said he was only charged with one other crime in the past, being a minor in possession of alcohol when he was in high school.

The story is the latest in a series about strange behavior by Smith. They include altercations at informal sports games, and numerous suspension of his Oregon State Bar and driver's license.

Smith says he has been diagnosed with adult attention deficit disorder and is taking medication for it.