Slaughenhoupt defends controversial tweet
Commissioner accused of trivializing sexual assault, says he was simply making a point
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.”