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 4:43 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.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 36680

Reported Deaths: 1250
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds299254
DeSoto195920
Madison148439
Jones122449
Harrison117716
Rankin112619
Neshoba104677
Forrest103843
Lauderdale96681
Scott82415
Jackson79819
Washington73713
Copiah67016
Leake63420
Lee62822
Oktibbeha61928
Grenada6049
Warren60021
Holmes59541
Lamar5837
Wayne56519
Yazoo5607
Lowndes54817
Leflore53456
Lincoln53335
Lafayette5064
Pike50520
Sunflower5048
Monroe46135
Panola4546
Covington4465
Simpson4433
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Tate39213
Attala38624
Newton37610
Adams35820
Pontotoc3556
Marion34512
Claiborne30811
Pearl River30332
Winston30111
Chickasaw30019
Marshall2923
Jasper2816
Noxubee2799
Walthall2708
Clay26111
Union25412
Smith25212
Coahoma2306
Clarke22325
Lawrence2132
Yalobusha2089
Tallahatchie1954
Kemper18414
Carroll18211
Montgomery1793
Calhoun1705
Humphreys16910
Hancock14813
Itawamba1478
Tippah14611
Webster13411
Jefferson1283
Prentiss1274
Jefferson Davis1254
Tunica1253
George1233
Greene11610
Amite1123
Alcorn1072
Tishomingo1061
Quitman1011
Wilkinson989
Perry914
Stone772
Choctaw764
Franklin542
Sharkey480
Benton470
Issaquena101
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 54768

Reported Deaths: 1096
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson6746170
Mobile4904140
Montgomery4547112
Tuscaloosa269053
Madison22689
Marshall198011
Shelby169125
Lee159637
Morgan13385
Baldwin127711
Walker107532
Elmore106721
Etowah101114
Dallas10029
DeKalb9677
Franklin93816
Autauga69815
Russell6860
Unassigned67928
Chambers67730
Butler65229
Limestone6393
Tallapoosa63069
Cullman6156
Houston6077
Lauderdale5776
St. Clair5443
Calhoun5155
Colbert5096
Escambia4888
Lowndes48422
Pike4795
Jackson4352
Coffee4284
Covington41612
Talladega4017
Barbour3992
Dale3951
Bullock37810
Hale35423
Marengo35411
Chilton3312
Blount3201
Clarke3176
Wilcox3038
Winston2995
Sumter29213
Marion29014
Pickens2746
Randolph2639
Monroe2603
Perry2502
Conecuh2318
Bibb2241
Macon2199
Choctaw21712
Greene1989
Henry1553
Washington1488
Lawrence1360
Crenshaw1323
Cherokee1247
Geneva980
Lamar891
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Cleburne451
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