Jackson Mayor Pete Muldoon this week gave a fuller picture of his version of his relationship with a woman who accused him of sexual assault in 2018.
He also apologized for messages he sent to a survivor of sexual assault who had posted her story to social media last week.
Muldoon’s accuser, however, continues to stand by her claim, saying she has “experienced panic attacks, [and] sleepless nights” over the past week as she has “continued to hear Pete Muldoon attack me in the press and portray himself as the victim in this matter.”
Muldoon, who was elected mayor in 2016 and is currently running for a seat on the Jackson Town Council, held a press conference Wednesday to give his side of the story following a week of controversy and calls for his resignation on social media and elsewhere. He acknowledged that he had a sexual relationship with the woman, but said all of their interactions were consensual and that his accuser used the threat of sexual assault charges “as a form of relationship blackmail.”
“The ... encounter in question was the first but was not the last encounter of that sexual relationship,” Muldoon said at the press conference. “The fact that all of those encounters were consensual is crystal clear from the evidence collected in this case.”
He added that, after he broke the relationship off, “the woman who would accuse me became upset that I did not want to continue the relationship and began to tell me that if I would not agree to continue the relationship, then she had no choice but to believe I had assaulted her.”
Muldoon said he then began recording their conversations. Those recordings, along with their text messages and other evidence, “conclusively proved my innocence.”
The woman who accused him, though, paints a different picture. She said in an emailed statement in response to Muldoon’s press conference that “at no time did I blackmail him.”
“After Mr. Muldoon raped me, I continued to have contact with him, but it would be hard for me to characterize the relationship as consensual,” she wrote. “I knew that what he did to me was wrong, but I didn’t want to admit to myself that I had been raped. I convinced myself that if he and I were in a relationship, that what he did to me wouldn’t be rape.”
During his press conference, Muldoon was asked if he stood by his statement that the woman who accused him of sexual assault had lied.
“I would say that I ... yes, she lied,” Muldoon responded. “But I believe that my accuser believed it was true. Lying is — I think there has to be some intent. I do believe the accuser believed this,” that she had been assaulted.
The woman — the Jackson Hole Daily does not name victims of alleged sexual assault unless they wish to be identified — said in direct response to that statement that “accusing the victim of lying is a frequent tactic used by abusers. Mr. Muldoon did not hesitate to spend the last week denouncing me as a liar, but now it seems that he doesn’t believe his own words.”
The woman also took issue with Muldoon’s claims over the past week that the evidence “exonerated” him and proved his innocence. Instead, she wrote, “under current law, it is nearly impossible to provide enough evidence to bring a sexual assault charge forward.”
Two weeks ago, the Teton County Sheriff’s Office, with guidance from the Teton County Prosecutor’s Office, released two reports in which they redacted the name of the accuser but not Muldoon’s name.
Per Wyoming’s restricted disclosure law (6-2-319), an alleged sexual assault suspect’s name is supposed to remain confidential until probable cause is found for indictment. Muldoon has told the Jackson Hole News&Guide that he is considering legal options against the sheriff’s office and County Attorney Erin Weisman. On Tuesday, he filed an Ethics Violation Complaint against Weisman with the Wyoming State Bar.
Weisman told the News&Guide that releasing the documents was legal since the investigation was closed and charges had not been filed.
The News&Guide last week filed an open records request, which is pending, for the entirety of the 2018 case file.
Also during Wednesday’s press conference, Muldoon addressed his interaction with Eden Morris, a Jackson Hole resident who gave public comment to the Town Council during its Monday night meeting. In her comment, Morris, herself a sexual assault survivor, chastised Muldoon for direct Facebook messages he had sent her after she had posted about her own experience.
“My reaction to Ms. Morris ... was just wrong,” Muldoon said. “In a moment, when a woman, a survivor, was finding the courage to share her story, a story we should all listen to, I did not listen. I reacted by becoming self-defensive. I tried to make her moment of courage about me, when it wasn’t about me.”
Muldoon went on to say that he promises to “use that moment to become a better person.”
“If she’s willing to hear my apology, I offer it fully and sincerely,” he said.
Morris was unable to be reached Thursday by press deadline.