SEN. Bob Packwood apologized, but he will not consider resigning over allegations by several women that he made unwelcome sexual advances toward them, his chief of staff said.
The veteran Oregon Republican refused interviews over the weekend and does not intend to respond specifically to the allegations leveled by 10 women, most of them ex-staffers, chief of staff Elaine Franklin said Sunday.
"It is not now his intention to publicly discredit or criticize the women or their allegations," she said in a telephone interview from Portland, Ore. "It was never his intention to cause pain or embarrassment. If that happened, he is very sorry."
The Washington Post disclosed the allegations of sexual misconduct Sunday in an article quoting former staff members and lobbyists, some of them by name. It said "since Packwood's earliest days on Capitol Hill, he has made uninvited sexual advances to women who have worked for him or with him."
The accusers said Mr. Packwood's advances were uninvited and unreciprocated. In some cases, they said, the behavior took place when he had been drinking.
A current aide, Julia Brim-Edwards, came to Packwood's defense Sunday, saying the picture painted of the senator was unfamiliar to her. "If it were [true], I would have left in a minute," she said from Portland.
Packwood, first elected in 1968, said in a statement his office released late Saturday night that he was sorry if any women felt pressured or embarrassed by his conduct.
"If any of my comments or actions have indeed been unwelcome or if I have conducted myself in any way that has caused any individual discomfort or embarrassment, for that I am sincerely sorry," Packwood's statement said.
The Oregon Democratic Party may ask the Senate Ethics Committee to investigate the matter, said Paddy McGuire, past executive director of the state party.
"I think he needs to deal with these allegations in a more straightforward and truthful manner," McGuire said Sunday in a telephone interview.