AG’s office shouldn’t mock sex assault claim
If there’s one part of state government that should show the utmost concern for the crime of sexual assault, it would be the highest law enforcement agency, the attorney general’s office. Incredibly, however, the communications director for Attorney General Ken Paxon doesn’t seem to grasp this basic fact. Marc Rylander sent out two tweets that mock the claim of sexual assault by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, acting as if these allegations are mere fodder for jokes.
In one, he said sarcastically, “Breaking: Democrats have a witness who said Judge Kavanaugh cheated at Pin The Tail on the Donkey in kindergarten class.” Another was a lame joke about Kavanaugh kicking his own mother from inside her womb.
These tweets are tone-deaf. Sexual assault is a serious, pervasive crime that should never be trivialized. The attorney general’s office is pushing even now for greater awareness about the horror of sex trafficking. That campaign is welcome, of course, but it needs support in word and deed by everyone in the attorney general’s office — such as its chief spokesman.
The claims against Judge Kavanaugh are being studied by the Senate, and it might turn out that they are unfounded in whole or part. That has not been determined yet, and given the nature of these allegations from 36 years ago, this might never be resolved. But that still doesn’t give anyone the right to joke about sexual assault, especially high-ranking government officials.
Many victims of rape or trafficking are reluctant to tell authorities what has happened to them. They are afraid of being blamed in some way for the horror they suffered because this has happened over and over to other women. They need to know they will be treated with respect and dignity by every facet of our judicial system.
U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, seems to get this. Cornyn, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee that will review these allegations, said the panel “should treat this with the seriousness it deserves, in a way that is fair to both the individual making the accusation and the judge himself.” We trust that Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and also a member of the Judiciary Committee, shares this approach.
The elephant in the room here is that Paxton is the only state attorney general in the nation facing felony indictment, in his case for charges of securities fraud. The case has been dragging on since 2015, lately about how much the special prosecutors should be paid.
The last thing Paxton’s office should do is cross any ethical lines — or even get close to them. If any members of his staff don’t understand this, he should find employees who do.