Embattled Rep. David Wu, D-Ore., announced Tuesday he will resign amid allegations he had a sexual encounter with an 18-year-old woman.
The decision by the seven-term congressman comes a day after House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called on the Ethics Committee to investigate claims by the woman that the interaction was unwanted.
Wu, 56, has said that what happened was consensual.
In a statement, he said: “I cannot care for my family the way I wish while serving in Congress and fighting these very serious allegations.”
Wu added, “The wellbeing of my children must come before anything else. With great sadness, I therefore intend to resign effective upon the resolution of the debt-ceiling crisis.”
The charges involving Wu first became public last Friday when The Oregonian newspaper reported that a young woman had left a “distraught” message with Wu’s Portland office accusing him of “aggressive and unwanted sexual behavior” in California last November. The paper described the woman as being the daughter of one of Wu’s long-time friends and campaign donors.
Wu’s decision to step down comes a little more than a month after another Democratic lawmaker — former New York Rep. Anthony Weiner — resigned after admitting to having several inappropriate online relationships with women through social networking sites.
For Wu, this is not the first time his erratic behavior has been the subject of headlines.
The Oregonian reported in February that Wu’s staff had urged him to seek treatment for mental health issues last fall after he sent a photograph of himself dressed in a tiger costume and penned emails in the voices of his two children. Those actions led to the resignation of a handful of his staffers.
Wu attributed his behavior to stress caused by the break-up of his marriage, the passing of his father, and the pressures of a tough campaign.
In 2004, Wu won re-election despite acknowledging an incident from his college years in which he tried to force a girlfriend to have sex.
In 1998, Wu became the first Chinese American elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. He won re-election in 2010 with 55 percent of the vote.