Kellyanne Conway: Accuser should not be ignored

Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway says Judge Brett Kavanaugh's accuser Christine Blasey Ford should be heard on Capitol Hill.

Posted: Sep 18, 2018 4:59 AM
Updated: Sep 18, 2018 5:15 AM

As the Senate inches closer to determining whether Judge Brett Kavanaugh will be confirmed to the US Supreme Court, the dreaded prospect of a "he said, she said" contest looms large.

According to Christine Blasey Ford, when the two were high school students, Kavanaugh attempted to sexually assault her at a party. Ford has reportedly described Kavanaugh's alleged actions in detail -- pushing her into a bedroom, pinning her down, and attempting to remove her clothing. To prevent Ford from calling for help, she says, Kavanaugh and another student covered her mouth, causing her to fear for her life.

Politicians on both sides of the aisle should be able to agree that sexual misconduct of this kind would be disqualifying behavior for a Supreme Court nominee. (The passage of time since the incident allegedly took place would arguably matter only if Kavanaugh had accepted responsibility and expressed remorse, neither of which has occurred.) Yet I worry about whether Ford's account -- even if believed -- will ultimately matter to many of the Senators who will decide on Kavanaugh's confirmation.

Throughout our history, the harm of sexual violence, particularly when inflicted by an acquaintance, has been trivialized or ignored. To this day, sexual assault survivors are unlikely to see justice prevail. Their accusations are often reflexively disregarded by law enforcement officers who short-circuit the investigation before exhausting opportunities to gather available corroborative evidence.

Faced with these grim realities, sexual assault survivors tend to give up altogether on the promise of criminal justice. According to recent Justice Department estimates, the population most vulnerable to sexual assault, females ages 18-24, reported incidents of rape or sexual assault to police at rates of only 20% among college students and 32% among non-college students. Among the most common reasons for not reporting these incidents were fear of reprisal and a belief that authorities could or would do nothing to help.

Kavanaugh's accuser seems to have reasonably anticipated that she would encounter considerable skepticism if she came forward with her story. And indeed, one prominent Kavanaugh supporter has already hinted that she was too intoxicated at the time of the alleged assault to be a reliable reporter while still more Kavanaugh defenders have insisted that he is a "good person" -- that is, not the type of man who would attempt sexual assault. In the days and perhaps weeks ahead, we should anticipate that Ford's character and her credibility will be relentlessly attacked.

Ford is far from alone. "Credibility discounting," as I have explained in a recent paper, is a huge problem inside our legal system and throughout society. But providing hope for survivors in the past year, this has begun to change.

Since allegations against Harvey Weinstein surfaced last October, countless women and men have come forward with previously unreported allegations of sexual misconduct. It has become evident that sexual abuse is rampant, not only in the workplace and on college campuses, but throughout adolescence. The jury is out on whether the #MeToo movement can transform this reality.

Moving forward, our societal response to accusations must take as a given that sexual misconduct is wrong -- wrong decades ago and wrong now. It remains to be seen whether the Senate accepts this as a starting point as it prepares to hear testimony from Ford, who deserves to be judged without resort to tired notions of how survivors of sexual violence should behave.

To give a pass to a man accused of sexual violence without a hearing that is fair and unbiased would significantly set back progress that the #MeToo movement has sparked. And worst of all, survivors of sexual assault and other sexual misconduct would be reminded once again that the system is fine-tuned to protect the powerful.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 895229

Reported Deaths: 9462
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1749772017
Ramsey722701040
Dakota66032572
Anoka62513568
Washington39357355
Stearns32821275
St. Louis28761399
Wright25354211
Scott25329181
Olmsted21750127
Sherburne18478126
Carver1629166
Clay11923103
Blue Earth1126366
Rice11234138
Crow Wing11003122
Chisago974676
Kandiyohi9660106
Otter Tail9611126
Benton8815124
Beltrami801794
Goodhue786596
Douglas7689100
Itasca752796
Mower721349
Winona702756
McLeod694483
Isanti681383
Steele669431
Morrison663479
Becker620873
Polk591684
Freeborn550846
Carlton529474
Nobles521654
Lyon518761
Mille Lacs516573
Nicollet510960
Pine500641
Cass491252
Todd483642
Brown465057
Le Sueur445933
Meeker422357
Martin378143
Wabasha366010
Waseca365132
Dodge351511
Hubbard349848
Roseau307931
Fillmore299115
Wadena298239
Redwood277845
Houston266817
Renville264151
Faribault253032
Pennington247529
Sibley246917
Kanabec241536
Cottonwood225032
Chippewa216342
Aitkin215850
Pope203210
Watonwan194920
Yellow Medicine185423
Rock174728
Swift169322
Koochiching168123
Stevens164511
Jackson159216
Clearwater155720
Marshall151122
Murray150911
Pipestone148329
Lake129824
Lac qui Parle120025
Wilkin119416
Mahnomen104714
Norman10389
Grant9719
Big Stone9365
Lincoln8705
Kittson71523
Red Lake70710
Traverse5996
Unassigned572124
Lake of the Woods5235
Cook3020

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 516453

Reported Deaths: 7289
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk80319799
Linn32142424
Scott26637292
Black Hawk21974378
Woodbury20490258
Johnson19778105
Dubuque18515241
Pottawattamie15890213
Dallas15320113
Story1380258
Warren8450104
Cerro Gordo7964123
Clinton7725114
Webster7326122
Des Moines7098105
Marshall669093
Muscatine6645117
Wapello6441144
Jasper619591
Sioux610177
Lee5908105
Marion557897
Buena Vista502149
Plymouth488388
Henry418655
Benton404859
Jones404862
Bremer395372
Washington391463
Boone389739
Carroll367755
Mahaska365365
Crawford353747
Dickinson314655
Jackson307747
Buchanan305741
Clay295536
Delaware294654
Kossuth289077
Fayette286353
Hardin284353
Tama279777
Page272533
Wright266149
Cedar265527
Hamilton259857
Winneshiek258143
Floyd255449
Clayton244459
Poweshiek237243
Madison234525
Harrison234379
Cass233466
Butler232744
Iowa229634
Jefferson223043
Mills220930
Winnebago215938
Hancock214639
Cherokee211347
Lyon206142
Appanoose205357
Allamakee203955
Calhoun196919
Shelby196442
Union191141
Humboldt185130
Grundy183637
Franklin183029
Mitchell182043
Chickasaw178922
Emmet178246
Louisa176953
Sac171026
Guthrie168137
Montgomery161745
Clarke160829
Keokuk150839
Palo Alto150532
Howard146824
Monroe142739
Ida130141
Greene127517
Davis124625
Lucas124426
Monona122939
Worth12139
Pocahontas120724
Adair114337
Osceola104818
Decatur101913
Taylor98514
Fremont95913
Van Buren93222
Wayne84525
Ringgold76729
Audubon74917
Adams5748
Unassigned480
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