Recently, Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore was accused of molesting a 14-year-old girl, whose account was backed up by several other accounts of young women reporting similar stories. The story, found in The Washington Post, is extremely well-corroborated, with many sources backing up the allegations.
Moore has denied the allegations, but that hasn’t stopped many Republicans from disavowing him and saying that, if true, he should withdraw his candidacy.
Mitt Romney has now added his voice to the growing chorus, with some strong words for Moore. According to Romney, Moore is “unfit for office” and should withdraw immediately:
‘Innocent until proven guilty is for criminal convictions, not elections. I believe Leigh Corfman. Her account is too serious to ignore. Moore is unfit for office and should step aside.’
Here’s the tweet in question:
The former governor and presidential nominee’s comments immediately caused a war in his replies:
It’s doubtful that many Trump supporters will drop support for Moore after these allegations. After all, Trump himself has faced a dozen accusations of assault, and admitted his willingness to engage in assault on tape, and yet was voted for anyway. The simple reality is that misogyny on the right wing runs deep, and victims will always be blamed.
That’s actually one of the reasons it makes so little sense to come up with a fake story to accuse a public figure of sexual misconduct. You’re going to have thousands of strangers – perhaps hundreds of thousands, or millions, depending on the public figure – calling for your head, posting your personal information, trying to sabotage your personal life. You will be called a liar, slut-shamed regardless of promiscuity, and have your character called into question.
Being a victim of assault, before the assault is proven, is stigmatized. That’s why reports are so low. It’s actually a fact that false rape allegations are almost never made, which runs contrary to the cultural impulse to question the story of victims.
If a person is a robbery, we don’t ask them what they were wearing. We don’t ask them how many people they’ve given money to in the last year. We don’t factor their personal history into the likelihood of whether or not they were robbed. No, we investigate the robbery with the assumption that the victim is telling the truth – falsifying a story about being a victim of crime is a bizarre thing to do, and although it happens, it happens rarely.
Research shows that rates of false reporting are frequently inflated, in part because of inconsistent definitions and protocols, or a weak understanding of sexual assault. Misconceptions about false reporting rates have direct, negative consequences and can contribute to why many victims don’t report sexual assaults (Lisak et al., 2010). To improve the response to victims of sexual violence, law enforcement and service providers need a thorough understanding of sexual violence and consistency in their definitions, policies and procedures.
In other words, the WaPo report is damning. Roy Moore is probably guilty, though because the statute of limitations is passed. It is unconscionable to vote for a man who very likely has groomed and predated on teenage girls.
Featured image via George Frey/Getty Images