Recently, in an appearance on Upfront with Mike Gousha, Governor Scott Walker hedged when asked about Roy Moore, the besieged candidate for U.S Senate. Moore has been accused of sexually assaulting teenage girls when he was an Assistant District Attorney in Alabama. Walker used rumors spread during his personal political campaigns and questioned the timing of the claims. He said “if” the accusations were true, then Moore should step down. So did, Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson.
Alabama Republicans lined up to defend Moore. Alarmingly, Ed Henry, a state representative, told a local Alabama newspaper “If they believe this man is predatory, they are guilty of allowing him to exist for 40 years,” Henry said. “I think someone should prosecute and go after them.” Nationally, the initial Republican response wasn’t much better.
Well, what a difference a day makes or maybe, a fifth accuser. When four women made the claims it wasn’t enough. There must have been something magical about yet another woman telling her story of a near rape that motivated Walker, Congressman Paul Ryan and so many others to finally accept that Ray Moore is unfit to serve in public office. To his credit, Senator John McCain was the first to say Moore “should immediately step aside”. But again, why the slow trickle of other Republican lawmakers to disavow Moore? The answer is politics pure and simple.
Countless Republicans, concerned about retaining control of the Senate and the advancement of their political agenda, are willing to make excuses for their complicity in advancing Moore. It doesn’t seem to matter that studies by Crimes Against Children Research Center, show that: 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys is a victim of child sexual abuse or self-report studies show that 20% of adult females and 5-10% of adult males recall a childhood sexual assault or sexual abuse incident. Although party politics were placed above the pedophilia of Roy Moore, most in Republican elected-leadership have now decided they can’t look the other way.
All eyes are focused on Donald Trump to see if he will call for Moore to step aside. But, this will likely be a difficult task for a man heard on tape bragging about using his power and fame to sexually assault women himself. But it’s not just Trump. Over the years, lawmakers have been criticized for creating a “culture of impunity” or lack of political will to aggressively enforce laws that criminalize even the purchase of sex with children. Further laws have been said to give the benefit of doubt to adults who claim they didn’t know their victims were underage and in some instances, children have been blamed for their own exploitation.
This entire ordeal made me think of a bill, SB 396, which I co-sponsored last week. The legislation addresses stiffer penalties for adults who patronize a person under the age of 18 for sex. This type of bill should be a no-brainer, just as it should be to reject Roy Moore.