Rape victim calls on Sen. Crapo to vote no on Kavanaugh

October 4, 2018

A rape victim from East Idaho is trying to convince Republican U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo of Idaho Falls to vote against Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Jackie Stephens, 63, also of Idaho Falls, wrote a column revealing that she had been sexually assaulted when she was 17. She said she wrote the article to get Crapo’s attention and hopefully convince him to rethink his support of Kavanaugh whose nomination will soon be voted on by the U.S. Senate.

Stephens’ column appeared in the Post Register on Tuesday and is being printed in today’s edition of the Idaho State Journal.

In the article, Stephens detailed how she was raped by a stranger while she was hitchhiking from Idaho to California. She said that prior to writing the column she had only ever told one friend and a nurse about the rape and both of them told her that because she was hitchhiking she was “asking for it.”

Lindsay Nothern, a spokesman for Crapo, emailed a statement to the Journal on Wednesday in response to Stephens’ column.

“Senator Crapo feels that it is important to acknowledge the courage of Ms. Stephens in sharing her story,” Nothern said in the statement. “He is deeply sorry that she faced the circumstances that she did: first, in the attack itself; but, secondly, in the judgments passed by her friends and health care providers. It is through efforts like hers in speaking out that society can improve and provide better avenues for women to find justice and healing.”

Nothern added, “For more than 25 years, Senator Crapo has worked to stop and respond to sexual and domestic violence and assault. He has been the lead Republican sponsor of the Violence Against Women Act, and has led the fight for years to get federal funds into Idaho and the nation to provide services for sexual assault victims.”

Stephens said she can relate to Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who accused Kavanaugh of attempting to sexually assault her while they were both in high school. Stephens said she, like Ford, cannot remember some of the specific details about what happened to her and she too was so embarrassed and scared that she did not report the incident to law enforcement or even talk to her family about it.

Stephens said she was compelled to tell her story after watching the news video of two tearful women angrily telling Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., about their own experiences of being sexually assaulted after Flake said he would vote yes to advance Kavanaugh’s nomination. Flake and Crapo are both members of the U.S. Senate’s Judiciary Committee, which last week voted to send Kavanaugh’s nomination to the full Senate for a vote.

“When I saw those women in the elevator yelling at Jeff Flake and telling their story, I thought that if my story could have any impact, then I needed to tell it,” said Stephens, a retired nurse. “I could not just sit back and watch this happen.”

In her column, Stephens addressed Crapo directly, begging him to support the FBI investigation into Kavanaugh.

Last week, Crapo said he believed that Ford had been sexually assaulted, but he also believed Kavanaugh’s denial that he was involved. During the Judiciary Committee’s vote, Crapo supported advancing Kavanaugh’s nomination.

Stephens said she wrote the column because she wants to call out Crapo’s “hypocrisy” in saying he believes Ford while still voting for Kavanaugh.

But Stephens admits that she does not believe what she wrote will change the senator’s mind.

“I don’t think my (article) is going to change what happens,” Stephens said. “But if everybody in every town had a story like mine, then it would make a difference. And I do think it’s important that we speak out.”

Stephens said she has received backlash for her column and some of her family members have even refused to speak to her because they feel she has “insulted a good man” by denouncing Kavanaugh.

However, Stephens said she has no regrets about writing the article.

“I am just an ordinary person,” she said. “I’m a mother. I’m a grandmother. I’m a wife. But this is something that’s so important, and I thought, ‘I need to be brave.’”

In Nothern’s Wednesday statement in response to Stephens, Crapo’s support for Kavanaugh was not highlighted.

“It is unfortunate that Dr. Ford’s story has been politicized and used inappropriately,” Nothern said in the statement. “She was sincere in her testimony before the committee; Judge Kavanaugh was equally as sincere. Both were certain of their testimony. Both presented their truth, their story. It is imperative that we listen to these allegations and investigate them. The Judiciary Committee has done a thorough investigation and now awaits the supplemental FBI investigation before a final vote.”

Stephens also attended a Wednesday demonstration in Idaho Falls protesting Kavanaugh’s nomination. The event was part of a national “vigil” organized through the MoveOn organization.

Elizabeth Cogliati, one of the organizers of the Idaho Falls protest, said she hoped to get the attention of Idaho’s senators — Crapo and Jim Risch — and persuade them to vote against Kavanaugh’s nomination.

“I think that there are more feelings against Kavanaugh (in Idaho) than we would expect,” Cogliati said. “I think this is a movement people can get behind.”

Cogliati also hopes Wednesday’s protest emphasized that many of the concerns about Kavanaugh go far beyond the allegations that he’s guilty of sexual misconduct. Primarily, many have speculated that Kavanaugh could help the pro-life movement make abortion once again illegal in America if he’s appointed to the Supreme Court.

“Our reproductive freedom is at stake,” Stephens said. “Women and their doctors should make decisions about their health, not some entitled Supreme Court justice who’s already got his mind made up on what women should be able to do with their bodies.”

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