* Trigger warning; This article contains extremely personal information about a family, a marriage and their collective struggles. It also contains information and speculative opinion regarding two struggling Portland newspapers. If you are sensitive to these topics or may become emotionally distraught or suffer an allergic reaction due to reading this manner of intimate Gonzo journalism, detailing divorce, parenting, and the slow agonizing death of the print newspaper, I respectfully request that you please refrain from reading this potentially inflammatory and highly dangerous content.
Before the sad and inevitable downsizing of the financially beleaguered Oregonian, the paper had a rich history in journalism. The Oregonian regularly published groundbreaking stories, seminal to Portland’s political and activist scene that resulted in serious contributions to journalism and to our reputation as a forward thinking city. Before the Oregonian ceased being what it had always been, (selling millions of irreplaceable photos and negatives to Historic Images for a pittance) Oregonian journalists took pride in writing stories that were meaningful, balanced, pulsed with verisimilitude and had lasting social value.
Though the Oregonian has always been conservative, white owned and operated, for decades it was all Portland had and we learned to accept it. There wasn’t really any competition to the Oregonian. Then, in 1974, Willamette Week was founded by morally grounded and highly skilled journalist, Ron Buel, as an alternative news source that would focus on what the Oregonian glossed over or ignored. Eventually, Buel sold the successful newspaper, confident that quality journalism would continue under new leadership.
Now more than forty years later, neither newspaper is thriving. And both WW and the Oregonian struggle to postpone their inevitable demise by promoting sensationalism in content and substandard “yellow journalism,” that is beneath the reading public.
This year we have seen two pitiable examples of just how desperate WW and the Oregonian have become. In their efforts to reconnect with Portlander’s who, increasingly are losing interest, both print newspapers have lowered the publishing bar and have focused on irrelevant tabloid journalism one would expect from the National Enquirer.
April 13, 2016, Nigel Jaquiss, of WW, published a poorly investigated, extremely biased story essentially condemning Fred Stewart, an African American, and candidate for city council, of violently assaulting his teen daughter September 21, 2013. The story is backed by one police contact, in which the responding officer, Officer Mike Chapin, wrote in the police report that neither Stewart nor his daughter sustained any evidence of physical injury as a result of the altercation.
In the WW article, Stewart was also accused of being arrested for nonpayment of child support. Later, WW was forced to print a retraction admitting Stewart has never been arrested for nonpayment of child support. The surprising error is a clear indication Jaquiss was not careful in fact checking or research. According to Stewart and several family members, the alleged assault of his daughter, Hunter, never occurred. http://www.wweek.com/news/2016/04/13/city-council-candidate-fred-stewart-pinned-his-16-year-old-daughter-against-a-wall/#civil-comments
The WW story also contains the questionable perspective of Stewart’s embittered ex-wife; a woman with a notorious criminal past as a Union Avenue street prostitute. This woman’s criminal history goes all the way back to the turbulent middle 1980’s, during which she was also involved in a felony robbery in Marion County, Salem, Oregon. For the purposes of this article/commentary, this woman will be referred to as L’Wren.
ONLINE FLAME THROWING: During some fiery debate on the WW website, a couple of days after the April 13, 2016 article was published, in which many people were critical of Nigel Jaquiss, describing his article as “racist,” I was accused of being Stewart’s “Mistress,” no less than three times by an individual who supported WW’s racist attack on Stewart’s character.
I noticed that many of the comments attacking WW and Nigel Jaquiss were subsequently deleted so the public could no longer access them, respond to them or disseminate them. The deletions occurred not due to profanity or threats, but due, in my opinion, to a transparent effort on the part of WW to censor well-written and articulate comments regarding the article and why it did not represent valid journalism or a balanced perspective. Many Portlanders considered the article a shameless racist attack, in which WW tried to exaggerate a minor family matter into something far more sinister.
It was also challenged by a commenter on the WW website that “someone” should conduct an “IP location test,” to determine if my laptop computer or cell phone signal was coming “directly from NE Portland, where Fred lives,” or elsewhere. I commented, as myself in response, telling the individual they should do just that. I indicated that my “IP location” would lead them directly to Washington County, in Beaverton, where I live with my husband. I am happily married to author, writer and retired PPB homicide detective, Don DuPay and entertain no future plans on being unfaithful to my husband.
What is significant is that the accusation would occur in the first place. Is it really so hard to believe that a white woman, an author and longtime writer, would stand up to protect an African American friend from a baseless and exaggerated accusation of unsubstantiated child battering? In Portland, considered the nations “whitest city” for certain people apparently, that is hard to believe. As a staunch advocate for my friends, its only what I would do for any number of people in my life who are important to me.
* As an aside, it’s important to point out, while engaged in his various runs for elective office, volatile white mayoral candidate—the notoriously colorful and verbally abusive Jesse Sponberg—has remained consistent in sarcastically insulting members of city council, encouraging Portland citizens to “tip over a few police cars,” and making other suggestions that local citizenry engage in illegal, atavistic behavior.
During Sponberg’s well known antics running for Mayor, WW, and the Oregonian demonstrated no interest in promoting a smear campaign by writing about Sponberg’s arrest for domestic violence, which is documented and a matter of public record. Why is that? Could it be that Sponberg was given a pass because he is not a man of color and is instead, white?
Many friends I’ve spoken with personally, including my husband Don DuPay, think that is indeed the reason Sponberg was given a free pass; along with the fact that Sponberg is a goofy clown who dances for the cameras and provides entertainment with his loquacious personality and boastful claims about being “one of the good guys!”
Several days after WW published their smear article on Stewart, I wrote a commentary, which was published with popular online news source, GoLocalPDX, April 22, 2016. (http://m.golocalpdx.com/news/willamette-weeks-nigel-jaquiss-journalism-of-destruction).
The commentary I wrote, “Nigel Jaquiss; Journalism of Destruction,” has been widely disseminated and warmly received by political insiders and other well-known Portlanders working in media and law enforcement. These are folks who have been stung by the muck raker’s barbs and his stories about them, some warranted, some not. What I have heard, directly, is that people in Portland enjoyed learning the truth about Jaquiss’s surprisingly deceptive behavior while interviewing Fred Stewart.
They enjoyed learning that Jaquiss is not above lying in order to write and publish his often one-sided, biased stories about those he deems morally inferior to himself. They enjoyed learning that as one who lies, Jaquiss, the often praised crusader of truth, no longer exists on a pastoral colored landscape of the moral high ground. The moral high ground he so carefully crafted with the publication of his piece on the sex scandal involving former Oregon Governor Neil Goldschmidt and his child victim, the late Elizabeth Dunham, is now significantly altered.
My published commentary, “Nigel Jaquiss; Journalism of Destruction,” provides reliable first person accounts not only from Stewart, but also his mother, Mrs. Dorothy Stewart and his former girlfriend, Margaret Ibanez. All of these individuals offer an entirely different view of what happened September, 21, 2013, when Stewart and his daughter, Hunter, had a loud argument. As Ibanez was present during the argument, her testimony about what occurred is most meaningful. Particularly, since she and Stewart are no longer intimate, Ibanez has nothing to gain by being dishonest and her accounts of that day have always remained consistent, corroborating Stewart’s accounts to the last detail.
In both pieces by WW and the Oregonian, Hunter Stewart’s recorded accounts are contradictory and suggest deception. The WW article suggests Stewart is guilty of a violent and unprovoked assault, in which he was trying to poke Hunter in the eye with his finger for no apparent reason.
The officer called to the scene, Officer Chapin, concluded, “I was unable to find any visible signs of injury to either party.” Stewart has stated, during numerous telephone and in-person interviews that he was not trying to “poke her eye out” but was rather “wagging a finger in her face” as parents have occasion to do with a rebellious child who won’t listen. Stewart claims during the loud argument, Hunter struck him and attempted to kick him. He indicated he was angry and “hurt” that she had been “flat out disrespectful.” By hitting him and trying to kick him, Stewart admonished Hunter, which included wagging a finger in her face.
Ibanez has indicated Hunter was screaming obscenities at Stewart, and attempted to kick him several times, which resulted in Stewart pushing Hunter against the wall, in an effort to defend himself. He admits to yelling during the altercation but denies Hunter’s claim that he assaulted her, choked her, or grabbed her by the throat.
One would presume if one is being violently assaulted, as Hunter has claimed, there would be visible signs of injury, as there are in most cases involving actual violent assault. This would include abrasions, cuts or bruising, but Officer Chapin could find absolutely no signs of injury to Hunter or her father.
The following day, September, 22, 2013, with her mother L’Wren orchestrating the event, Hunter’s face was photographed at Central Precinct. The photos revealed “…some light bruising under the right side of her jawline,” and, “…a small red mark on her chin.” Officer Chapin did not notice those marks the day before, but they were present the day after, according to the criminalist who took the photos. The marks could have occurred any time after September 21, 2013, and therefore should not be considered significant for that reason, having potentially occurred for another reason altogether.
A few weeks after the WW article was published, Steve Duin, of the Oregonian published his own extremely weak opinion piece, May 7, 2016. In his article, he made sure to mention that he knew of the father/daughter rift before Jaquiss and that while he could have written about it before Jaquiss, he chose not to. Duin’s OP offers a defense of Hunter that is based solely on her testimony and what he personally, “knows about father’s and daughters.” It should be mentioned that what Duin claims to know about “father’s and daughter’s” is limited exclusively to his own privileged white middle class mentality. Duin cannot presume to adequately understand the complex difficulties of raising a biracial child, as a man of color, in a city as white as Portland. Therefore, what Duin “knows” about father’s and daughter’s is limited to his own narrow and privileged experience as a white cisgender male. http://www.oregonlive.com/news/oregonian/steve_duin/index.ssf/2016/05/steve_duin_daughter_and_father.html
In the OP Duin was thoughtful enough to mention my article, describing it quaintly as a “rant” in an effort to dismiss the relevant issues I was exploring. Duin even provided a link to the commentary. I appreciated the gentlemanly gesture, but saw clearly that including my article and referring to it as a “rant” failed to achieve what he had hoped. I have received an enormous amount of positive attention from political insiders in Portland for the piece and stand by every word I wrote.
After the Duin OP was published, the Oregonian website blew up with comments critical of the Oregonian and of Steve Duin. One commenter attacked the Oregonian and Duin for writing what they described as a “RACIST,” article. Another commenter wrote that the Oregonian was now officially over, publishing “only racist” opinion pieces and stating that they would never read the Oregonian ever again solely because of Duin’s OP.
Over 35 well-written and eloquent comments critical of the Oregonian and Steve Duin were deleted by one of the website administrator’s. The deleted comments from the Oregonian website hearkened back to WW and their deleted comments from their own website, after the publication of Jaquiss’s April, 13, article attacking Stewart.
Both the Oregonian and WW are well-known for regularly deleting comments critical of their tabloid journalism that unfairly damages the reputations of those they decide to single out and vilify. Both papers do this in a transparent effort to save face and engage in damage control, all in an effort to alter the perceptions of a disgusted reading public.
As stated in the OP, Duin bases his belief that Hunter was the victim of unprovoked violence after speaking with her via cell phone for several “hours,” and then meeting her in Manhattan at a bagel shop for a short “90 minute,” interview. Duin believes this surface interaction provided sufficient time to thoroughly get to know a clever young woman who has been accused of blatant deception by no less than four family members and Stewart’s former girlfriend, Margaret Ibanez.
For the OP, Duin spoke with Fred Stewart and his elderly mother, Dorothy Stewart, for one brief conversation. However, the only source Duin used for his OP was Hunter Stewart, because apparently Duin was unable or unwilling to find other sources willing to get involved or corroborate Hunter’s story. The rule of thumb, journalistically, for any kind of short column, even something as insignificant as an OP is generally three primary sources; just apparently not for Steve Duin.
The telephone conversation Duin had with Dorothy Stewart occurred after she had spent more than two weeks, “crying and crying” while also contending with painful rheumatoid arthritis, which she told me “only gets worse and more painful when you’re under stress.”
After a lifetime Stewart has spent working hard, serving the Portland community in a multitude of ways and volunteering on countless volunteer commissions, including acting as president of the King Neighborhood Association for ten years and serving currently on the board of Oregon Black Pioneers, Stewart came under a vicious one-sided attack, which many believe had racism at its core. Mrs. Stewart’s despair was due to the frustration she felt that her oldest child was being unfairly vilified in the media as a result of the Jaquiss article and then the Duin OP and there was nothing she could do about it, no way to defend him, no way to speak out.
When Dorothy Stewart corroborated Stewart’s account of what happened in September of 2013, and would not slander or otherwise speak derogatorily of her son, Duin aggressively announced, “Well, I believe Hunter!” Mrs. Stewart ended the conversation, saying “Then I see no reason to continue speaking with you,” and quietly hung up the phone. Mrs. Stewart feels she was rudely attacked and that Duin accused her of being a liar; something she takes offense to as she places great importance on honesty and truthfulness.
May 9, two days after the Duin OP was published, my husband, author, writer and retired PPB homicide detective, Don DuPay, wrote his own opinion piece, in which he described feeling “appalled” at both the WW article by Jaquiss and the Oregonian OP by Duin because of the obvious efforts made by both men to destroy Stewart’s political success in his run for city council. In the OP, Don shares experiences he had with racism himself in the early 1980s and how hurtful and unproductive it is when those whom we love are impacted by racist attacks. My husband’s former wife, son and granddaughters are all people of color. Don’s OP has been warmly received and disseminated widely. http://m.golocalpdx.com/news/racism-in-portlands-politics-is-alive-and-well-in2016
Hunter Tries to Explain: As a response to the April 13, article by WW and my commentary published with GoLocalPDX, a personal statement by Hunter Stewart was posted to her face-book profile and was included in the Duin OP. In the long statement, the reader sees that Hunter is a fair writer overall and an above average writer for a person so young. The statement is interesting not in what it includes, however, or the typical language of ultra-liberal academia, sprinkled throughout, of a new and excited-to-learn college student, but in what is left out.
In Hunter’s statement, she identifies herself as the victim of “domestic violence,” and begins to elaborate on how this has impacted her. Hunter was four-years-old when her parents split up in 2000, after a fourteen-year union, twelve years during which Raymond and Stewart were married. After the divorce, Stewart agreed that it would be best if Raymond had primary custody of their daughter, saying,
“I just thought it would be best if she was with her mother. Daughter’s need to be with their mother’s and I didn’t want to take that away from Hunter.”
Stewart saw Hunter for several days every other month, up until Hunter was sixteen. Though there were many times after Hunter entered high school that she would call her father and beg off, saying she had school work or school projects she needed to focus on. Stewart was always understanding and easygoing when Hunter said she couldn’t make it.
“When it came to her school work, I always told Hunter not to worry about the visitations and to just focus on what she needed to—if it meant doing school work. I always supported her when it came to doing her school work.”
Hunter claims that her father abused she and her mother and that at one point she has even been bitten by her father, though she offers no coherent or detailed descriptions of any abuse. In her statement Hunter fails to disclose the details of the biting incident, which she does not elaborate on.
Hunter, further claims when she was in “grade school” a police officer was called to her father’s home while she was there for a visit, but does not adequately address why that police contact occurred. The statement Hunter provides is significant primarily for what it conveniently fails to include; her own volatile behavior.
When speaking with Stewart, he disclosed pertinent details regarding both incidents. As a parent myself, I could relate to both dilemmas and his story had the ring of truth to it, while Hunter’s story did not seem plausible, simply because of what she chose to leave out.
According to Stewart, when Hunter was about two-years-old she began biting other children; this included her mother L’Wren and himself. Biting behavior is universal with toddlers who may be teething and feeling irritable. Biting, by children is also used as a control mechanism and as a way to garner attention from adults. Nearly all children have done this, including my own adult daughter, back when she was a toddler.
The bites Hunter inflicted on other children were often serious and resulted in the breaking of skin and small quantities of blood. According to Stewart, he and Hunters mother, L’Wren talked to her about the importance of not biting people to no avail. Hunter continued to bite. One afternoon, Hunter bit her mother yet again, and a few minutes later, she meandered over to her father and bit his hand, also The bite broke the skin on Stewart’s hand. Exasperated, Stewart took his toddlers hand in his and bit it lightly, while telling her that he had told her “not to bite people,” before and she chose not to listen.
“I growled like a bear, to make an impression and as I remember, she got pretty upset. But it worked. She stopped biting us.”
Stewart was teaching his daughter that to be bitten “did not feel good.” He was offering Hunter a lesson in empathy. He used the tactic as a way to teach Hunter to stop biting her mother, himself and other children she came into contact with.
Stewart’s former girlfriend, Margaret Ibanez, has confirmed his account of the biting incident, agreeing that Hunter went through a short-lived phase of biting her parents and other small children. But with the lesson Stewart provided, Hunter learned to stop biting. She learned that if it didn’t feel good for her to be bitten, it must not feel good when other people are bitten. A tough-love lesson which taught Hunter the importance of empathy. And it worked. She stopped biting. Millions of parents have done this from time immemorial.
In the face-book statement, Hunter shares a story in which she admits the police were called to her father’s home, when she was in “grade school” but again Hunter fails to honestly disclose the entire back-story as to what happened or what the disturbance was really about. She writes in the statement, “Once when I was still in grade school the police were called to my father’s house. When the officers left his property he told me that a cop had said to him that if his daughter acted the way I did, “he’d pull her by the hair down the hallway.”
After speaking with Stewart and his younger sister, Tracy, who was also a witness, I learned of a more plausible scenario that seemed far more logical. Stewart told me that when his daughter was still in grade school, his younger sister, Tracy, had taken Hunter out for the day and spent money on her having fun, taking her to lunch and buying her several “pretty things” a 12-year-old girl might want.
Stewart wanted to show his daughter the importance of reciprocation and demonstrate that she appreciated what her Aunt had done. Since Hunter sometimes helped Stewart wash his new luxury car, he suggested to Hunter that she wash Aunt Tracy’s car. Hunter became instantly furious, according to Stewart and began yelling, calling him an “asshole,” and other foul, profane names. She declared that she would not under any circumstance wash her Aunt’s car.
Stewart became angry and both Stewart and his preteen daughter yelled at each other, arguing in the driveway of his home. An annoyed neighbor called 911 and the police arrived. According to Stewart, Hunter continued to be disrespectful, telling the police officer she shouldn’t “have to” wash her Aunt’s car and behaving like a typical sullen, rude and defiant preteen with an inflated sense of her own self-importance.
During the angry fit, before the police officer arrived, Hunter picked up a water bucket and threw it around the driveway, nearly hitting him with it and called her father foul names repeatedly. The name calling is something Stewart claims Hunter picked up from watching and listening to her mother, L’Wren, do the same thing. When the officer arrived, the officer nor anyone else ever entered the home. They officer spoke to Stewart and his daughter in the driveway of the property, only.
When interviewing Stewart about this incident, I asked him about the allegation Hunter made that the officer had told him if Hunter were his daughter, “he’d pull her by the hair down the hallway.” Stewart stated that the officer never made any such a claim. He said what the officer actually said was, “If that kid were my kid, I’d give her a couple smacks upside the head.”
Clearly it is not advisable to encourage parents to behave violently toward their children in any manner. But if Hunter was being as defiant and rude as Stewart claims she was, and if she was equally rude and ill-mannered to the police officer, which Stewart also claims, it seems more in keeping that the officer would have said, “If that were my kid, I’d give her a couple smacks upside the head,” as opposed to the strangely provocative, “he’d pull her by the hair down the hallway.”
The remark about pulling a 12-year-old girl by the hair down a hallway? It seems strangely sexualized and unlikely that a PPB officer would have made such a blatantly salacious remark directly to the father of a 12-year-old girl. The allusion to rape is hard to miss in the alleged remark and it simply does not have the hint of believability. The statement sounds like fiction. It sounds like a lie. But then lying is something Stewart claims Hunter has been exposed to for most of her life, by watching her mother in action.
Hunter goes on in her statement, with this colorful phrase; “On a Saturday morning he snapped and grabbed me by the throat among other things. During this altercation, I looked into his eyes and realized a soul was not looking back at me.” This overly dramatic, hyperbolic appraisal of her father does not sound like the Stewart I personally know, or the Stewart that my husband Don knows. Neither does it sound like the Stewart his mother, father, two siblings, or his former girlfriend Margaret Ibanez knows. Hunter’s melodramatic statement sounds like a childish, immature, dishonest rationalization. Since Hunter refuses to accept responsibility for her own inappropriate and volatile behavior, she simply blames her father exclusively for her own combative conduct and then suggests he is without a “soul.”
It’s important to note that Hunter Stewart contacted WW over a year before the Jaquiss story was published and actively sought to destroy Stewart’s run for city council. Hunter also contacted her grandmother Dorothy Stewart, at around the same time, hoping presumably, to trap her grandmother into saying derogatory things about Stewart, as she was also taping the conversations with her grandmother. Mrs. Stewart never fell for the bait. Hunter had not spoken to her elderly grandmother in well over a year and as Stewart shared, “She didn’t like to listen to my mother talk about religion. She’d tell her, “I don’t believe in God! I’m a scientist!” This manner of premeditated revenge-seeking speaks volumes about Hunter’s lack of moral development, empathy or conscience.
Truth is Stranger than Fiction: According to Stewart, Hunter’s mother, L’Wren has a criminal history that involves a short-lived profession as a street prostitute during the middle 1980s, that spanned approximately six to eight months, just under one year. Stewart claims when he first met L’Wren, October, 4, 1986, she was a 20-year-old from a broken home marred by generational incest, domestic violence, drug addiction and general family dysfunction. After speaking with Dorothy Stewart and Margaret Ibanez, they both confirmed these allegations.
The domestic violence L’Wren witnessed, according to Stewart, involved her mother “attacking her father” and “slapping him around.” Eventually L’Wren’s mother threw her father out. He had been caught “flashing the neighbors,” basically exposing his genitals to the neighbors and L’Wren’s mother had had enough. After a few months of L’Wren’s father begging to come back, he was allowed to move back in, despite his out of control, deviant sexual behavior and the clear and present danger he presented to their three young daughters.
After L’Wren graduated from high school, she enrolled in Portland State University and attended for about three terms—just about one year. She was bright and ambitious but not a particularly good student. She struggled to find work with little luck, having no marketable job skills. At the time she lived on NE Sacramento Street, near Williams Avenue, in a dilapidated rooming house teeming with prostitutes, alcoholics, and frequented by “Johns” looking for sex. It was around this time that she dropped out of PSU and gave up on her goal of graduating from college.
Stewart claims that upon first meeting L’Wren, she was pregnant with a “trick baby,” but that he was not aware of her vocation yet, or that she was pregnant for the first two weeks of their relationship. It was only after L’Wren allowed Stewart to become sexually intimate with her and “fall in love with her” after they first met that she finally admitted she was trying to escape the life of a Union Avenue street prostitute and that she had no idea who the father was of her unborn baby.
Stewart admitted, “That’s when it all made sense. Her being sick all the time, throwing up when we went out to restaurants, that sort of thing. She’d tell me she just had a bug.”
When Stewart took L’Wren out on their first date October 6, 1986, two days after they met, picking her up at her ramshackle rooming house, he saw where L’Wren was living and could see she was not only “ashamed” but also extremely vulnerable in such a dangerous environment. As he walked up to the front porch he saw a prostitute, on her knees, giving a man oral sex on the front porch as the John sat in a folding chair. Neither person made any attempt to hide what they were doing and the John laughed smugly as Stewart and L’Wren walked into the apartment building.
Later, during their “date” at a local restaurant, Stewart remembers feeling alarmed. He casually asked L’Wren about where she was living and if she was safe, though clearly, he knew she wasn’t. L’Wren told him the place was a hellhole and she was constantly afraid. She told him there were times she had to sprint from the bus stop after her classes at PSU, to the rooming house, because she would be hassled by street people. This included John’s searching for a hooker, drunks walking the street and other random misfits out looking for trouble. She said that with the limited money she got from financial aid for PSU, the rooming house was all she could afford.
According to Stewart, he suggested L’Wren could come and stay with him and she readily accepted the invitation. After they finished eating, he took her back to the rooming house and watched as she eagerly packed a few bags with her clothes and other personal belongings. She moved in with Stewart that night; the night of their first date.
L’Wren was small and pretty, standing only five feet two and weighing about 110 pounds. She had greenish hazel eyes and wavy, reddish brown hair. “She had this crazy thick hair. It was the envy of every woman who saw it. Her hair was brown but she had these crazy orange highlights. Every woman who saw it was jealous.”
L’Wren was an alluring young woman, in clear distress and looking for a way out. Stewart, fresh out of serving 2 and ½ years with the US Marines and only 21-years-old would provide the solution to her problems, by giving her a safe place to stay on the night of their first date. He would also agree to pay for the abortion that L’Wren indicated she desperately needed, as she had no idea who the father was and could not consider giving birth to a “trick baby.”
After the abortion of the “trick baby,” and after living together for almost two years, Stewart and L’Wren were married February, 4, 1988. They settled into married life as they had previously settled into domestic life and by all accounts continued to be happy. Unbeknownst to Stewart, however, someone quite dangerous was still actively looking for his new wife.
Her former pimp, Adrian Allen Coleman.
Adrian Coleman was one of Portland’s most violent, abusive and controlling pimps on record. According to a retired law enforcement officer who dealt with him and watched him in action, “Coleman has no current counterpart today,” who can match his propensity for violence or cruelty. The girls who tried to leave Coleman’s parasitic clutches ended up in the hospital or mysteriously went missing. Several never to be seen again.
Coleman would routinely beat the prostitutes in his stables and threaten to kill them and their families if and when they chose to leave or go back home. I have learned there are close to ten active murder investigations, with Coleman as a person of interest, in the states of California, Nevada and Oregon.
The most famous disappearance of one of Coleman’s former prostitute’s became a 1993 NBC film featuring DALLAS actress Linda Gray. The film is called “Why My Daughter: A Moment of Truth” made for TV film, and is “…based on the case of Adrian Coleman and Diana Gail Moffitt.” After a trip to San Diego, Coleman returned to Portland. Moffitt did not return. In fact, she was never seen alive again. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt017593/
Several months after her disappearance, the scattered skeletal remains of Diana Gail Moffitt were discovered, October 9, 1987, in San Diego, on Blossom Valley Road by a county road crew as they were cleaning a drainage ditch. The remains were identified through dental records and the death was ruled “suspicious” and believed to be the result of homicide. The murder case is still open in the state of California. http://www.examiner.com/article/why-my-daughter-true-story-of-diana-moffitt-adrian-coleman
Coleman, with a lascivious tattoo on his upper arm that reads, “Sharing the Pussy,” has left Portland intermittently over the decades but being that he was raised in Portland, he’s never left permanently. He always comes back. Online arrest records for Multnomah country indicate Coleman has been arrested in Portland for promoting prostitution and failing to “register as a sex offender,” in 2005, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and as recently as August of 2015.
Adrian Coleman was the pimp who threatened to kill L’Wren on more than one occasion if she ever left the life of prostitution she found herself trapped in. Unlike some women, who claimed to have been “kidnapped” by Coleman and forced into the life, L’Wren, according to Stewart, “approached” Coleman wanting to prostitute herself so she could “earn some extra money and have a good time.” She had no marketable job skills, was struggling at PSU and couldn’t find work.
A couple of girls L’Wren knew were working for Coleman and always seemed to have money for make-up, clothes and eating out. She decided she wanted a piece of the action. In reality, the girls were actually “scouts” recruiting other young women into prostitution for Coleman. After the first couple weeks of Coleman setting up dates with good-looking young men in their 20s and 30s, in time, Coleman started demanding L’Wren have sex with regular working men. Some of them had bad teeth, some smelled, and many were older than fifty or wanted peculiar fetishistic activities that L’Wren felt uncomfortable doing. It was then that she began to complain. The working life of prostitution was no longer fun. She wanted out.
Soon after L’Wren began to complain about having to sleep with old smelly men she didn’t consider attractive, Coleman decided to impress upon her the futility of ever trying to leave. He and his buddies took L’Wren to a motel where Coleman and two of his pimp friends beat another prostitute to a bloody pulp. The girl had committed some kind of infraction, (probably withheld monetary earnings) and was beaten into unconscious in front of L’Wren and another prostitute. The viewing of the beating sent a message to both girls: Leave us and the same will happen to you. L’Wren was starting to get the picture. Once you entered the life, Coleman wouldn’t let you leave the life.
Soon after the hotel incident, Coleman began telling her if she ever tried to leave, he’d kill her. L’Wren played along for a long time but she was always thinking of escape. One day, she saw a chance to get away. As she was walking Union avenue, under the watchful eye of Coleman and his crew across the street in their parked car, a police officer drove up and began questioning them, giving them a hard time and demanding ID. Officer Harry Jackson, an African American Portland cop was hired in the early 1980s and he came down especially hard on the black pimps working out of NE Portland, knowing they were nothing more than pathetic parasites, destroying the lives of young naïve women all over Portland.
L’Wren was across the street on the east side of Union, (now Martin Luther King Boulevard) and Coleman and his crew were on the west side. As Coleman and his crew were being detained by Officer Harry Jackson, she saw her chance and jumped on a Trimet bus that happened to amble by, stopping at a nearby corner bus stop. She made a quick get-a-way. Coleman and his crew, which included several other black pimps spent several months searching Portland for L’Wren following her escape from the life, but never found her.
Shortly after her escape, L’Wren met Stewart, a young Marine only 21-years-old; an old fashioned patriot, with old fashioned ideas, about right and wrong, men and women and what a man does to protect the woman he loves. Stewart provided L’Wren with the respectability and safety net she needed. Agreeing to pay to abort her “trick baby” meant a fresh start for both of them, along with starting his new career as a real estate agent, where he would earn good money for their new life together.
Almost two years later, after L’Wren and Stewart were married, she found herself cornered by Coleman and his crew. She had started a job working at a Mrs. Fields cookie shop at a local Portland Mall. She and Stewart discussed the danger of her getting a job but she felt enough time had passed and she could venture out in the public and work a regular job. She was behind the counter, selling cookies when Coleman and his right hand man Charcoal and two other pimps walked up and surprised her. “Hey bitch, how ya been? Coleman asked menacingly. They began harassing her and threatening her life, refusing to leave when she told them she was not a prostitute anymore. L’Wren was panicked and fighting back tears. The only safety she had was the counter door, which separated her from the group of four black men. Two white male security guards in their early 20’s walked by looking frightened and did nothing to intervene. L’Wren rushed to the business phone and called Stewart telling him that Coleman was threatening to kill her. Stewart could hear the threats coming over the telephone line loud and clear as Coleman yelled obscenities at L’Wren.
“You’re dead, bitch!”
“You gum-be dead by tonight, white bitch!”
Stewart told L’Wren to stay where she was and he would drive over immediately. “I was so scared for her. She only stands five feet two. I’ve never driven so fast in my life. I must have been going about 120 the whole time.”
Stewart came on the scene and told Coleman and the others that L’Wren was now his wife. The four black pimps suddenly decided to stop making a scene. Stewart spoke with Coleman briefly. They made plans to meet later the next day on the Waterfront to discuss their differences. The following day Stewart met Coleman and Charcoal at the Waterfront and they talked. Stewart made it clear to Coleman that if he continued to threaten the life of “my wife” Coleman would live to regret it. As Coleman was a couple years younger than Fred, several inches shorter and significantly less powerful and considering they had both grown up near their respective neighborhoods in NE Portland, Coleman had time to rethink his position.
He decided he would back down. L’Wren “wasn’t worth it” he told Stewart. She was “crazy” and suddenly he wanted no part of the conflict. He lectured Stewart saying, “You know she’s crazy, right? She’s just gone make you miserable, man! But hey, if you want her, you can have her. I don’t want no part of the bitch!” Stewart reflected on the day they met at the Waterfront, saying, “It was really weird, you know? It was just so totally anti-climactic. He said he “didn’t know” she was my wife and it just ended. Just like that. He and Charcoal and the other guys just got in their car and drove off.”
After the drama ended, Stewart and L’Wren continued on with their lives, finally having a baby March, 6, 1996, eight years after their marriage. Hunter’s arrival was the answer to their prayers. They had wanted a baby to share their lives with more than anything. Unfortunately, it was not L’Wren’s first child.
In 1983, when L’Wren was still underage, she gave birth to a severely deformed and retarded infant that she immediately abandoned at the hospital. She was horrified at the infant’s appearance and wanted no part of it. The family of the man she claimed was the father took the child in and raised it as their own. The child, a boy named Tristan, was born deaf, blind and mute, suffering from severe brain damage. But according to Stewart, L’Wren admitted she had had sex with over five men during the two weeks that she became pregnant and had no idea who the real father might be. She told Stewart, later, when he learned of the child’s existence, “That baby is dead to me. I don’t want anything to do with it.”
* In my research for this story, I have seen documentation from the former “Children’s Services Division” that proves the existence of “Tristan” and that “L’Wren” was listed as his birth mother. The agency notified her when the child finally died.
The child, Tristan, Hunter’s half-brother died one month before Hunter’s birth in March of 1996, after reaching the age of only thirteen. When notified of the death of her son, according to Stewart, L’Wren was unmoved. She had no pity for the child who had been born so disadvantaged that she had abandoned at the hospital.
Stewart also claims that before Tristan was born, L’Wren admitted she had tried on multiple occasions to induce an abortion, as she was trying to hide the pregnancy from her mother. On three separate occasions L’Wren became extremely drunk, including one occasion in which she ingested a bottle of the over the counter mouthwash, Listerine. L’Wren’s attempts to abort the baby were unsuccessful, so when it was born deformed, deaf, blind and mute, she simply abandoned it. It is likely the attempts at unnatural abortion through alcohol poisoning severely impacted the growing fetus in a detrimental manner.
“I was so young then. I just didn’t think about what it meant when she said, “That baby is dead to me.” I didn’t think twice about the kind of person who would say something like that, you know? I was so young.”
After four years of new parenthood, and twelve years together, L’Wren and Stewart split up in 2000. When I asked Stewart the cause of the split, Stewart indicated it was Raymond’s out of control spending and her constant of lying about where she spent time and how much money she spent while shopping.
“She would lie about everything. Even before things went sour, I had friends and family literally screaming at me telling me, “She’s LYING Fred! She’s LYING!” But I didn’t wanna believe it, I was in love. Then she lost interest in sex and after that, it just went downhill. I finally asked her if she still loved me and she said no. It was hard but I knew I had to move on. Then we split up and that’s when she started telling people I’d been beating her. After that, I knew I had to take extreme evasive action, and that meant only meeting her in public and eventually I even stopped talking to her on the phone. She was telling all my high school friends and even trying to convince my mother that I’d been beating her and beating Hunter. Hunter was four-years-old when we split up. Oh my God! I’m beating my four-year-old, that I treasured? No way. It never happened.”
This is why Stewart finally decided to sue L’Wren, in 2013. He wanted his day in court. He wanted to be able to talk to a judge about the years of slander and false accusations she’d leveled against him. Including Hunter in the suit was part of the process his lawyer told him and was unavoidable. Stewart also claims that the amount was changed from several million to only $7,500 because his attorney didn’t know that the maximum that could be sued for, in a family situation like that, involving deliberate slander was only $7,500. Often clients aren’t aware of the various legalities involved in lawsuits and sometimes even lawyers are not up to date on every detail, themselves. Suing for millions of dollars was also only for effect, Stewart claims. He knew L’Wren had no money but he wanted the slander to stop.
Stewart has made valid points when he states that if he ever actually abused L’Wren and Hunter, why are there no police records, photos or medical reports, such as hospital visits, or other personal testimony by her family, or Stewart’s family members corroborating the alleged abuse?
“You won’t find one photo, medical report, anything that supports that I was ever a wife beater or a child abuser! Because it never happened.”
Dorothy Stewart, Tracy Stewart and Margaret Ibanez, have all vehemently corroborated that Stewart was never abusive to L’Wren or his daughter Hunter, who was three-years-old when she moved with her mother and away from the family home.
Going back to one of the articles, in the OP by Duin, one passage reads, “He’s not crushing my throat,” Hunter says. “He’s not trying to strangle me. But he grabs me hard. He’s never done that before. I was dry heaving and gasping for air.” Margaret Ibanez remembers Hunter talking to Officer Mike Chapin and telling him that Stewart was choking her and that she couldn’t breathe. But when speaking with Duin, Hunter backtracks, and says, “He’s not crushing my throat” and “He’s not trying to strangle me…” but she claims to have been “dry heaving” and “gasping for air.” When I asked Stewart if Hunter was actually “dry heaving” or “gasping for air” he rolled his eyes and said she was not. All he could remember most clearly was all the profanity she used, and all the names she called him, after she hit him and then tried to kick him, repeatedly.
In my countless conversations with Stewart I asked him why his ex-wife would engage in such a concentrated effort to discredit and vilify him. “What was she so angry about? Why did she want to destroy you so badly?”
Stewart seemed perplexed by the motivation, but agrees that it has to do with her past. Compared to him, her accomplishments seemed to pale in comparison. According to Stewart, being the girl who dropped out of college, who was pregnant her entire senior year in high school, giving birth to a severely deformed and retarded infant, ending up a street prostitute and all the shame filled chaos of her painful home life as a child has damaged L’Wren and created what Stewart believes to be a huge reservoir of self-loathing. She relieves herself of some of that toxic self-loathing by attacking others, rather than focusing on her own shortcomings.
When Stewart and L’Wren finally called it quits, Fred moved on with his life. He continued seeing the new woman he had started seeing when he discovered L’Wren had her own new partner and paid of several debts that L’Wren left him with. After L’Wren learned that Stewart had a new woman in his life, she was suddenly interested in him again. She wanted to meet up and spend time with him. She began calling him up, flirting over the phone, but it was too late. Stewart had moved on. And he couldn’t forget the rumors she had spread, to his family and to his friends, that he was a “wife beater” who had also beat his toddler daughter, three-years-old at the time. Stewart said no. He wished her the best but they were finished.
That’s when the attacks began full force. Not long after he turned L’Wren down he learned she called Portland police to tell them he was stalking her, hiding in the bushes of her front yard and she was afraid. L’Wren used her small size to her advantage, once bragging to Stewart, “Who do you think the police are gonna believe?! You or ME?!” When L’Wren first called the police accusing Stewart of stalking her, Stewart had been out of town for three days and was over 3000 miles away when L’Wren called Portland police. These types of events happened more than once and Stewart was later left showing Portland police officers plane tickets and other receipts proving he’d recently traveled.
During a phone conversation, after the split, in which L’Wren called Stewart’s mother Dorothy, when Hunter was only four-years-old, she vowed to turn Hunter against her father. “I’ll turn Hunter against Fred and I’ll turn her against you, too!” she exploded over the phone to Mrs. Stewart.
Stewart believes coupled with the self-loathing that is part and parcel to her psychological makeup, another element is that L’Wren grew up in an extremely racist household. Black folks were looked down on by both her mother and father and they made it clear to all three daughters’ that black men were off limits. When L’Wren and Stewart got together she was the embarrassment of her family, despite the fact that both her two sisters ended up becoming homeless drug addicts. Stewart believes L’Wren did everything she could to turn Hunter against “the black side of her family” despite the fact that the black side of her family is more stable, better educated and more successful than the white side.
On Stewart’s current Facebook profile there is an interesting exchange between Hunter and her father, dated October, 18, 2010. A photo is displayed of Hunter and her Grandmother, Dorothy Stewart, when Hunter is a small child. She is wearing a bathing suit and has a dark rich color. Below the photo Hunter has written, at 11:41am “Jeez. See, I’m getting lighter as I get older not darker.” At 11:44 am, Stewart responds by writing, “Hunter, you are a trip,” to which Hunter responds, October 21, 2010 at 4:49pm by writing, “Whatever you say, Darkness Brother.”
Could it be that Hunter has lived with the shame of being black her entire life because of nonverbal messages and signals her white mother has been giving her? Could it be Hunter has been raised to be ashamed of the black side of her family? In my opinion not only is it possible, it is likely.
Ultimately, the marriage ended, according to Stewart, because of L’Wren’s excessive spending habits and her new boyfriend, whom she never named or revealed. “I worked. That’s what I did, I worked, and Robin stayed home. She’d gotten a couple jobs in the beginning but she stayed home for several years, like seven whole years without working. And she handled the money. Sometimes I’d make $9,000 on a commission and I made some really good money. One year I made over $100,000 and yet, it seemed we were always broke. After a while, I started keeping a better eye on the bank account, which was a joint account. That’s when the real trouble started brewing.”
After trying to reach Tracy Stewart, Stewart’s younger sister, I was able to get her perspective and chat with her about the going on twenty years that Stewart has dealt with the venom of L’Wren and her unnatural obsession with destroying not only Stewart’s relationship with his only child, Hunter, but with any success he may have in politics or anywhere else.
Stewart told me that Tracy was “intensely angry” by the years of harassment and vilification that her brother experienced after the divorce from L’Wren. When I asked for a quote, Tracy had this to say: “In my opinion, Hunter plays with the truth because of the influence of her mother, a bitter, evil woman who has spent the last sixteen years trying to destroy and get back at Fred. This “person,” is so hell bent on destroying Fred, that she would use her own child to destroy him.”
I asked Stewart if he had ever shared any of this information with his daughter Hunter and he admitted he never has. “I’ve never talked to Hunter about her mother’s past. I never knew how to begin; you know? I never knew how to phrase it. How do you tell your daughter that her mother used to be a street prostitute? How do you do that? I never know how and I didn’t want to burden Hunter’s mind with it. But now, after these two articles…attacking me…I see no other course of action then to just tell the truth as I know it and so many others’ know it. What these stories have put my mother through? What they’ve put me through—my sister and my brother? I feel like the truth needs to come out.”
As the countries “whitest city” Portland has a long and rich history of discriminating against people of color and sweeping the very circumstances of that discrimination and abuse under the proverbial rug. The yellow journalism hatchet pieces by Nigel Jaquiss of Willamette Week and Steve Duin of the Oregonian are excellent examples of how white men in positions of political power strive to keep successful, well-spoken and well-educated men like Fred Stewart down—where they perceive them to belong.
In other words, because Fred Stewart wanted to run for city council, exercise more power in his life and be an even greater asset to the city of Portland where he’s lived nearly his whole life, Jaquiss and Duin took it upon themselves to falsely portray him as the archetypal Negro savage who cannot be trusted, and is intrinsically violent, as opposed to the generous and enlightened man he has proven himself to be.
What I personally know about parental love, is that it is limitless not only for mothers but also for fathers. There are no depths or dangers we will sidestep in order to forgive our children when they make mistakes. Sometimes the mistakes can be minor, sometimes serious. Sometimes our children will feel justified in doing the things they do, only to later seriously regret their course of action. But that often takes years and sometimes even decades.
I think what this bizarre serving of narrative shows us is that what seems straightforward rarely is straightforward. There is always a back-story. There are hidden skeletons buried in ever deeper closets. There is always dirt, in every history. And sometimes the good guys get trashed when they shouldn’t.
I hope what each reader takes away from this article or commentary or opinion piece or whatever you want to call it—is the knowledge that Stewart was like a lot of men. He was young, he was inexperienced and he fell in love. He tried to do the right thing. He tried to help a girl who desperately needed help, a girl who was in trouble. And in the long haul, it didn’t work out. But there is an adult child in the middle of all this. Technically, she’s still a teenager and she’s still incredibly young. If her mother truly loved her, then she would not have spent so many years and so much time and resources, as validated by several sources, trying so desperately to turn Hunter against the only father she will ever have, with deception at the core of virtually every accusation.
Forgiveness is challenging and it takes time but there is no amount of time that Fred Stewart would reject when it comes to his daughter Hunter because the bottom line is he loves Hunter completely and with his whole heart, even after all that’s happened.
When speaking with Stewart on the phone, after the WW and the Oregonian stories broke, I heard his voice, tremulous, breaking with emotion. I heard the pain and the distress, the confusion and the hurt as it emanated from the telephone line. It wasn’t a put-on, it was real.
When we consider the damage tabloid journalism can do, let this story be a lesson. Let us remember how Willamette Week and the Oregonian were more than happy to callously insert themselves between a father and a daughter and watch that relationship be torn apart. Let us remember the other people who got caught in the turmoil, Fred’s two siblings, Tracy and Tony and of course Fred’s elderly mother, Dorothy and his ailing father, along with countless cousins and Aunts and Uncles, too many to name here, who have now vowed they will never speak to Hunter Stewart again.
Tearing families apart is not what good journalists do. These kinds of smear articles, with racism at their core are not what writers with any manner of integrity or enlightenment do. This is why yellow journalism, coming from both WW and the Oregonian are below the dignity of the reading public of Portland.
Margaret Ibanez; That day as the police officer took Hunter home I saw Fred shed a tear for the first time. He was hurt and that upset by what happened. That night I saw the pain and hurt in his eyes again. Despite all this, Fred still loves his daughter. He always has and always will. Someday Hunter will regret the lies she told. Someday Hunter will regret what she has done.