On May 9, 2005, Spokane Mayor Jim West waits to make a statement to city council that he will take a leave of absence in the wake of allegations of sexual abuse and misuse of power.

A Hidden Life

November 14, 2006 / 54m

Season 2006: Episode 4


On May 5, 2005, the residents of Spokane, Washington, awoke to one of the strangest headlines in the town’s history: “West Tied to Sex Abuse in ’70s, Using Office to Lure Young Men.” The popular, socially conservative Republican mayor of Spokane, Jim West, had been outed by the town’s newspaper, which told the sordid story of a man with two lives: in public, he had once sponsored legislation forbidding gays from teaching in public schools, while in private, the paper alleged, he was trawling for young men online, using the trappings of his office to lure them into sexual relationships. But as bizarre as the revelations were, so too were the newspaper’s methods. FRONTLINE producers Rachel Dretzin and Barak Goodman investigate the complex relationship between politics, sexuality, fear, and judgment in one all-American town. [Explore more stories on the original website for A Hidden Life.]