Political hopeful Charles McGee, banker Aubre Dickson enter not guilty pleas in high-profile case.

CONTRIBUTED - Charles McGheeProsecutors last week ended months of suspense by formally charging longtime prominent Portlander Charles McGee and bank executive Aubre Dickson with sexually assaulting another prominent Portlander, Erica Naito-Campbell.

The indictment occurred three months after Naito-Campbell's detailed account of the alleged 2012 incident was published in Willamette Week, and just days before prosecutors' deadline to file thanks to a six-year statute of limitations.

For McGee, who faces the most charges and who may have the toughest challenge in court, the case marks the latest in a string of alleged offenses against women as well as the end of a once-promising political career.

Indeed, it was his political ambitions that put him in his current predicament — specifically, his decision to run for the Multnomah County Commission to represent North and Northeast Portland. He dropped out of the race after the publication of the Willamette Week story.

"I always told myself that I would come forward if Charles ever ran for office," Naito-Campbell was quoted as telling Willamette Week in the Feb. 7 article. "Because there are some things that simply cannot be allowed."

But lawyers interviewed about the case say the outcome of the indictment is hardly assured, saying jurors may question Naito-Campbell's decision to wait so long before making the accusation.

Both men have pleaded not guilty and hired well-known criminal defense lawyers.

Dickson has hired a prominent defense attorney, Stephen Houze, to defend him, and Houze has signaled a vigorous defense.

"She may think her story is compelling," he told reporters after Dickson's May 9 arraignment. "We'll see in court."

McGee has hired Christine Mascal, formerly a well-regarded prosecutor, who did not respond to requests for comment.

Naito-Campbell's account was graphic and disturbing. She told of meeting with Dickson, a friend, at the University Club, and McGee.

McGee insisted on taking them to a strip club and immediately began coming on to her, she said, adding that later, at a house they went to, both men assaulted her.

Willamette Week interviewed six of her friends, as well as her therapist, and reviewed emails and a phone bill that showed a call to a rape hotline three days later.

In one email a month later, Dickson asked to be friends again, saying "I want to make things right between us," according to the article.

Run sparked allegations

It's unclear if McGee expected Naito-Campbell's story to surface during his campaign.

A longtime activist who ran for school board at the age of 19, then founded the nonprofit Black Parent Initiative, McGee was viewed as a likely frontrunner in the county race.

But instead of formally declaring for office last year, McGee instead ran an exploratory campaign for months, the political equivalent of dipping a toe in the water.

In an interview last year, he told the Tribune his sister was afraid that if he ran for the county seat bad things would happen to him.

Another prior incident, however, was the first to surface. In December 2017 the Tribune reported on a stalking order filed against McGee in 2007, when he was 22.

In that case, Patrice Hardy, then the 21-year-old daughter of a prominent local pastor, said she'd repeatedly told McGee to leave her alone over the span of 18 months, but he refused. She added that she became alarmed when McGee allegedly entered her house without permission after she repeatedly told him go away. He left after she began screaming and was "preparing to defend myself," she wrote in her stalking petition.

McGee portrayed the woman as a liar and at one point literally laughed at her from the stand in court as she tried to get him to admit to what she said happened.

A judge, however, found Hardy's version the credible one and her fears reasonable.

In that case, she also testified that McGee had told her of a rape allegation previously made against him. She said McGee felt he had so many political connections and lawyers that he was "invulnerable."

... He specifically stated that when he was being accused in a previous matter of rape that he wasn't worried because he has money and lawyers," Hardy told the judge, adding that in emails he sent her, which she submitted to court, McGee talked about struggling with self-control.

Willamette Week, in its February article, described speaking with an alleged rape victim about a 2006 incident involving McGee. The timing suggests it may be the same incident Hardy described in court.

In 2015 another woman filed a complaint against McGee. Jhaizmine Smith, an AmeriCorps intern, said he had essentially offered her a job in exchange for sex after having refused to listen to her many entreaties to leave her alone.

McGee is married to Serilda Summers-McGee, the city of Portland personnel director.

A hearing to discuss the case and potential trial has been scheduled for July 19.

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