It seems to me that the current furor, an absolute firestorm, that has erupted around the nominee for the supreme court has a number of possible results, but a couple are an absolute certainty. To summarize the situation as this is written, the nominee, along with an accomplice, has been accused of: forcible kidnaping; physical assault; sexual assault; attempted rape; and attempted murder.
These accusations have been made by a woman who claims while they at a drunken teenage party thirty-some years ago the accused and an accomplice: grabbed and forced her into a bedroom; threw her onto a bed; sexually assaulted her by groping her through her clothing; attempted to remove her clothing to rape her; and covered her mouth with his hand to silence her screams thus suppressing her breathing causing her to fear for her life.
The accuser claims she was able to escape when the accomplice jumped on the bed, supposedly to assist in the assault, but whose actions resulted in all three tumbling to the floor. The accused and alleged accomplice have denied participating in, or knowing of, these events.
One positive defense against these accusations would be to prove the accused was elsewhere at the time and thus could not have committed them. That was what happened several years ago when sexual assault accusations were made against members of a Duke University athletic team. The accused eventually successfully employed the”elsewhere at the time” defense – but irreparable damage to the lives of the accused had already been done.
In this case, such a defense is impossible because details such as the date and location of the alleged crimes are not known. According to the accuser, they occurred “sometime” during the summer of 1982 at an unknown, unidentifiable home where adults were absent. The accused has reportedly produced his 1982 calendar showing he was out of town most of that summer and, while containing entries of parties, none corresponded to that described by the accuser. But that’s insufficient evidence of his innocence – it’s not definitive, undeniable proof.
Another possible defense lies with eye witnesses who can attest to the event. In this case the primary eyewitness, according to the accuser, is the accomplice to the assault and whose denial of any knowledge of the event must therefore be discarded. Another supposed eye witness has reportedly said she was never at any party with the accused, much less at the one described by the accuser, but her statement has also been discarded as invalid.
Well, there’s much more to this sordid saga to be played out. As this is written, the accuser has not yet testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee where she insisted on the accused testify in his defense before she made her accusations and she be questioned only by members of the committee whose Republican component has been characterized as “old white men” thus injecting age, gender, and race into the equation. Okay, so what? How could there be an absolute certainty of results given the proceedings are not yet over?
The answer is twofold: first, the accuser has already been characterized as a heroic victim of a vicious sexual assault who is willing to risk her life by coming out with her story. This portrayal will stay with her regardless of whatever else happens.
On the other hand, the accused has been branded as a drunken, depraved would-be rapist preying on an innocent teen-age girl. Nothing can ever change that representation so he and his family will have to live with that stigma for the rest of their lives. Yep, these images will remain regardless of the outcome of the nomination process – and that’s an absolute certainty.
You know, this is scary – how easily and quickly a man who has dedicated his life to public service and has successfully survived a half dozen or so in-depth FBI investigations into his public and private life can have his and his family’s lives utterly destroyed by unprovable, but indefensible charges. Except for his denial and the support of scores of women who have surged forward to attest to his character, he has no way of defending himself against claims of crimes committed over thirty years ago at an unknown time and place and which surfaced only when he was on the brink of being confirmed as a justice of the Supreme Court.
Sure makes a body wonder how much the current deluge of sexual harassment and assault allegations might be playing a role in, or influencing, this extremely politicized case – and that’s even more scary. At least that’s how it seems to me.
Editor’s note: This column was submitted the day prior to the hearing.
Bill Taylor, a regular Greene County Daily columnist and area resident, may be contacted at [email protected]