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Sexual assault is not a game — stop using women to score political points

Sexual assault is not a game — stop using women to score political points
© Greg Nash

California Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinSen. Walter Huddleston was a reminder that immigration used to be a bipartisan issue GOP plays hardball in race to confirm Trump's court picks Feinstein would 'absolutely' reopen Kavanaugh investigation if Dems win Senate MORE and other Democrats had a moral duty to the American people to immediately inform law enforcement officials when they received a letter from Dr. Christine Blasey Ford claiming she had been sexually assaulted by Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Instead, Feinstein withheld this information for several weeks, only to now use the woman’s alleged victimization as a legislative pawn for her party. 

Conservative pundits have now used the allegations against Kavanaugh to question the authenticity of the left’s concern for victims of sexual assault, and the right is attempting to draw a moral equivalency between Kavanaugh and one of the Democratic National Committee’s rising stars, Minnesota Rep. Keith EllisonKeith Maurice EllisonGOP lawmaker once belittled sexual harassment: 'How traumatizing was it?' Dershowitz: Obama, Ellison have 'special obligation' to condemn Farrakhan Ellison accuses ex-wife of physical abuse, divorce records show: report MORE. Ellison has been accused of verbally and physical abusing his ex-girlfriend, Karen Monahan.

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As a sexual assault survivor, I find it insulting to watch lawmakers seek political revenge and not justice. 

Every 98 seconds someone is sexually assaulted in the United States; at 19, I became one out of the more than 300,000 people sexually assaulted each year.

I shared my very personal tragedy on Fox News’s “The Story with Martha MacCallum” last week, to stand up for victims and discourage politicians from holding information of alleged crimes hostage until they can use it for their legislative benefit. 

Let me be clear: I am not a Republican, nor do I support the nomination of Kavanaugh. Therefore my opinion is not rooted in party but in my own story of rape and survival.

It is undeniably hypocritical that Republicans would accuse Democrats of turning a blind eye to assault victims and pretend that Democrats are not holding members of their own party accountable.

In 2017, Democratic Reps. John ConyersJohn James ConyersFormer campaign aide to New Jersey governor says she was sexually assaulted by his ex-staffer Kavanaugh controversy has led to politicization of 'Me Too,' says analyst Sexual assault is not a game — stop using women to score political points MORE (Mich.) and Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenGOP lawmaker once belittled sexual harassment: 'How traumatizing was it?' Meet the man poised to battle Dems from the White House Minnesota GOP Senate candidate compared Michelle Obama to a chimp in Facebook post MORE (Minn.) both resigned amid allegations of sexual harassment. Former President Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonConservatives bankrolled and dominated Kavanaugh confirmation media campaign Sen. Walter Huddleston was a reminder that immigration used to be a bipartisan issue No, civility isn't optional MORE was impeached because of sexual misconduct — the most infamous case of sexual misconduct in recent presidential history. And just this week, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called for a Democratic mayor in his state to resign amid allegations of domestic abuse against his wife and daughter.

The disregard that conservatives and supporters of President TrumpDonald John TrumpCorker: US must determine responsibility in Saudi journalist's death Five takeaways from testy Heller-Rosen debate in Nevada Dem senator calls for US action after 'preposterous' Saudi explanation MORE show for women who have been victimized can only be described as a clear-cut case of political amnesia.

These far-right “Trumpeteers” seem to have suddenly forgotten that the man who sits in the Oval Office, the commander-in-tweets, has admitted to grabbing women by their genitals and is  accused of sexually assaulting more than a dozen women.

Accusations of sexual assault are not exclusive to Trump. In December of 2017, the Republican National Committee and Trump endorsed Senatorial candidate Roy Moore, despite his pedophile behavior, saying, “He totally denies it. He says it didn't happen.” White House aides Rob Porter and David Sorensen continued to receive praise from Trump despite allegations of assaulting women. 

Members of Congress should have turned the Kavanaugh letter over sooner, if for no other reason than to protect public safety. If Kavanaugh is investigated and found guilty of any crime, he should be held fully accountable. Perpetrators of sexual assault should not be left to walk the streets freely, much less be considered for the highest court of the land. Our justices are to uphold the law, not break it.

Neither party is seeking justice, because on Capitol Hill, politics trumps crime. To see our grief used as a political football to score legislative points is disgusting.

Rochelle Ritchie is a former press secretary for Congress, and served as communications director for the Baltimore City State's Attorney's Office. Follow her on Twitter @RochelleRitchie