Slaugh­en­houpt de­fends con­tro­ver­sial tweet

Com­mis­sioner ac­cused of triv­i­al­iz­ing sex­ual as­sault, says he was sim­ply mak­ing a point

The Calvert Recorder - - Front Page - By TA­MARA WARD tward@somd­

Calvert County Com­mis­sion­ers’ Pres­i­dent Evan Slaugh­en­houpt (R) caused a stir on so­cial me­dia this week for a tweet draw­ing a cor­re­la­tion be­tween him­self and U.S. Supreme Court nom­i­nee Brett Ka­vanaugh, who was re­cently ac­cused of sex­ual as­sault.

“I as­saulted a young lady; 1st to 4th grade birth­day gaunt­let in school. Child­hood friend of my af­fec­tion had a birth­day had to run the aisles. As did oth­ers, I smacked her on her but­tocks. I feel so dis­qual­i­fied for any po­si­tion to­day. NOT! Get over it peo­ple. Con­firm Ka­vanaugh,” Slaugh­en­houpt tweeted Sept. 18.

In an in­ter­view with The Calvert Recorder, Slaugh­en­houpt said the gaunt­let ref­er­ence is to a child­hood game where the birth­day boy or girl would get spanked on the be­hind by other kids in at­ten­dance. The prac­tice may be bet­ter known as the “pad­dle ma- chine,” ac­cord­ing to the com­mis­sioner.

The tweet drew a com­par­i­son be­tween the birth­day spank­ings and re­cent al­le­ga­tions from Chris­tine Blasey Ford that Ka­vanaugh sex­u­ally as­saulted her in the 1980s when they were both high school­ers. Slaugh­en­houpt

said his in­tent was not to stir up con­tro­versy, but in­stead to make a point.

“Don’t use to­day’s stan­dards on some­thing that hap­pened 35 years ago,” Slaugh­en­houpt said, re­fer­ring to the al­le­ga­tions against Ka­vanaugh.

“Peo­ple need to be care­ful when you ap­ply to­day’s judg­ment to some­thing that oc­curred years ago,” the board pres­i­dent added.

Af­ter re­ceiv­ing nu­mer­ous com­ments on his tweet, Slaugh­en­houpt at­tempted to clar­ify Thurs­day in a Face­book com­ment to some­one else’s post. There, he ex­plained the child­hood game in greater de­tail and said things that were done decades ago would be judged dras­ti­cally dif­fer­ent to­day.

The tweet gar­nered 144 com­ments and count­ing.

“That’s where the ro­bots are,” Slaugh­en­houpt said, re­fer­ring to Twit­ter.

“Draw­ing a cor­re­la­tion be­tween a child’s birth­day spank­ing and at­tempted rape is un­con­scionable and dis­gust­ing. That’s the sort of thing we ex­pect on a #Calvert De­plorables bill­board. Not a state­ment from a #BOCC Pres­i­dent,” the Calvert County Demo­cratic Women’s Club com­mented on the thread.

Club Pres­i­dent Re­nee Lafay­atte con­firmed the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s tweet and said the club has taken a stance against this kind of be­hav­ior and Slaugh­en­houpt’s state­ment.

Lafay­atte said, “it’s best for Evan to just stop” and that he should have a lit­tle com­pas­sion and em­pa­thy. Lafay­atte, who is an avid user of Face­book, said she was dis­mayed by the num­ber of peo­ple who were sup­port­ing his post on the plat­form.

“Those views should never be en­dorsed by any per­son or party,” Lafay­atte said, ac­knowl­edg­ing she did see some Repub­li­cans ex­press reser­va­tion with the com­mis­sioner’s state­ment. “It’s not only un­ac­cept­able — it’s not de­cent.”

Lafay­atte said she and the com­mis­sioner went back and forth pub­licly on Face­book and al­leged that Slaugh­en­houpt re­sorted to name call­ing and say­ing lib­er­als have no sense of hu­mor.

Calvert County Demo­cratic Cen­tral Com­mit­tee mem­ber Mike Fit­ton said he does not nor­mally fol­low Slaugh­en­houpt’s so­cial me­dia ac­tiv­ity, but al­leged that the com­mis­sioner “has some his­tory with dis­parag­ing women, es­pe­cially lib­eral women,” re­fer­ring to posts af­ter the 2017 Women’s March on Wash­ing­ton the day af­ter Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump was in­au­gu­rated.

“I can’t believe that all the women dis­gusted are Democrats,” Fit­ton said of the nu­mer­ous replies. “Clearly, this is not par­ti­san.”

“I think he has drawn a false equiv­a­lent of some ex­pe­ri­ence he had as an ele­men­tary school kid and the sex as­sault al­le­ga­tions against Brett Ka­vanaugh,” Fit­ton said, not­ing that is the real is­sue. “I don’t think you can equate the two.”

Former Calvert County deputy state’s at­tor­ney Kathryn Marsh would not di­rectly ad­dress Slaugh­en­houpt’s tweet with the Recorder. How­ever, she shared her thoughts about the national con­ver­sa­tion cur­rently tak­ing place that has spurred the hash­tag #WhyIDid­ntRe­port.

“As a prose­cu­tor of sex­ual as­sault crimes I am dis­tressed any time sex­ual as­sault al­le­ga­tions be­come po­lit­i­cal. Sex­ual as­saults are com­mit­ted by Repub­li­cans, Democrats, in­de­pen­dents and ev­ery­one in be­tween,” said Marsh, who is a reg­is­tered Repub­li­can and now works for the Prince Ge­orge’s County State’s At­tor­ney’s Of­fice.

Marsh, also a mem­ber of the Calvert County Com­mis­sion for Women, said that both of­fender and vic­tim can be found in ev­ery pro­fes­sion, race and creed.

“When we, as a na­tion, al­low po­lit­i­cal con­sid­er­a­tions to triv­i­al­ize al­le­ga­tions of sex­ual as­sault, we be­lit­tle the al­leged vic­tim and per­pe­tra­tor. Both de­serve bet­ter. Ev­ery al­le­ga­tion of sex­ual as­sault should be treated se­ri­ously and not triv­i­al­ized. Ev­ery per­son who re­ports a sex­ual as­sault should be treated with re­spect. Ev­ery per­son ac­cused of sex­ual as­sault should be af­forded the same rights and pro­tec­tions of any ac­cused,” Marsh said. “No one should rush to judg­ment and no one should make as­sump­tions.”

Marsh stressed that a de­lay in re­port­ing does not au­to­mat­i­cally equate to a false re­port and that sex­ual as­sault is one of the most un­der­re­ported crimes in the coun­try.

“On av­er­age only 31 per­cent of sex­ual as­saults are ever re­ported to po­lice. This means ap­prox­i­mately two out of ev­ery three sex­ual as­saults go un­re­ported. There are a va­ri­ety of rea­sons why vic­tims don’t re­port sex­ual as­sault, which in­cludes: em­bar­rass­ment; shame; guilt; fear; thoughts that no one will believe them; they don’t want any­one to know they’re a vic­tim; or they just don’t want to go through the trauma of a crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion and pros­e­cu­tion,” Marsh con­cluded.

“I have no com­ment on Slaugh­en­houpt’s tweet,” Calvert County Repub­li­can Cen­tral Com­mit­tee Chair­man Ella En­nis wrote in an email to the Recorder. “Ford has made an ex­tremely se­ri­ous ac­cu­sa­tion against Judge Ka­vanaugh. The Democrats in the U.S. Se­nate are us­ing that ac­cu­sa­tion as a blud­geon­ing tool to try to kill Judge Ka­vanaugh’s nom­i­na­tion to the Supreme Court.”

En­nis said they were de­lib­er­ate in with­hold­ing in­for­ma­tion re­gard­ing the ac­cu­sa­tion and then drop­ping it as a bomb­shell when the vote was sched­uled.

It “is right out of Joe Bi­den’s Se­nate Hill-Thomas play­book. It is dis­grace­ful,” En­nis wrote, re­fer­ring to a sim­i­lar con­tro­versy in 1991 when then Supreme Court nom­i­nee Clarence Thomas, now a jus­tice, was ac­cused of sex­ual ha­rass­ment by former em­ployee Anita Hill.

En­nis be­lieves there were sev­eral op­por­tu­ni­ties for Ka­vanaugh to have been ques­tioned in pri­vate or pub­lic and feels the Democrats did not do so.

The Democrats “don’t care a damn about Pro­fes­sor Ford. They only want to run out the clock un­til the mid-term elections and to de­stroy Judge Ka­vanaugh and his nom­i­na­tion be­cause he is a con­ser­va­tive, not be­cause of the ac­cu­sa­tion. They are cyn­i­cal hyp­ocrites,” En­nis said.

En­nis be­lieves Ford should have an op­por­tu­nity to be heard, but does not think she can de­mand that Ka­vanaugh tes­tify first or that he not be able to hear and see her tes­tify, as she is the ac­cuser. In­stead, she be­lieves Ford needs to lay out her charge and all of the de­tails. En­nis is chal­lenged with the Democrats re­fus­ing to al­low the Repub­li­cans on the com­mit­tee to see an un-redacted let­ter of Ford’s al­le­ga­tions.

“If any of us, woman or man, were ac­cused of a se­ri­ous and vi­o­lent crime we would ex­pect to be able to face our ac­cuser and re­but their charges. Judge Ka­vanaugh de­serves no less,” En­nis said, stress­ing that the U.S. Se­nate should move ahead and vote on the nom­i­na­tion if Ford con­tin­ues to de­lay or re­fuses to tes­tify.

Slaugh­en­houpt is no stranger to com­ment­ing on national con­tro­versy in so­cial me­dia. Ear­lier in the year the com­mis­sioner came un­der scru­tiny for com­par­ing Florida school shoot­ing survivor and ac­tivist David Hogg to the Nazis.

On this most re­cent oc­cur­rence, com­ments, GIFs and memes chastis­ing the com­mis­sioner for triv­i­al­iz­ing sex­ual as­sault and ques­tion­ing why he was in of­fice flooded so­cial me­dia. One per­son even asked if the com­mis­sioner’s wife read his tweets. Oth­ers said they looked for­ward to him leav­ing of­fice, while oth­ers de­manded he re­sign im­me­di­ately.

“Are you se­ri­ous? I’m a fe­male voter in Calvert County, and your com­ments dis­gust me. I’m so happy to know that you re­cently toured the new school be­ing built that my daugh­ters at­tend as well. I’ll be sure to pass along your in­dif­fer­ence to­wards sex­ual as­sault al­le­ga­tions,” Diana Scog­gins replied on Twit­ter.

Slaugh­en­houpt told the Recorder he was just re­spond­ing to national news and he is “mak­ing no judg­ment on the charges — no­body knows any­thing.”

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