Those defending Brett Kavanaugh make a lot out of time between when his alleged actions took place and when his accusers came forward. They claim this speaks to his innocence. Is Bill Cosby innocent because his sixty victims didn’t come forwards years ago? Think about it for a minute: Cosby was able to drug and rape women, the earliest known cases dating to the mid-1960s, without a lot of people suspecting him of these heinous crimes. A hardcore life-long sexual predator and it took years for his crimes to surface. That his crimes went effectively undetected is a reason he was able to keep repeating them. He is finally a convicted rapist and he is going to prison for it, but prison is not what makes his drugging and raping real. It was real long before he was brought to justice.
Catholic priests have been molesting children for decades. It took years for that to come out, too. And it’s still coming out. How could these priests and their superiors have hidden thousands of victims for so many decades in so many churches without very many people knowing? Bishops and other leaders of the Roman Catholic Church in Pennsylvania covered up child sexual abuse by more than 300 priests over a period of seventy years (Catholic Priests Abused 1,000 Children in Pennsylvania, Report Says). Why did those who did know not come forward? These were children being criminally violated. How does this happen? How do rapists hide repeated sexual assault from parents? Should we think of priests as innocent of these heinous crimes because their victims didn’t come forward?
Why are people defending sexual predators by asking questions that any person with even a passing knowledge of victimology knows the answer to? Criminologists have known for a very long time that sexual predation flies under the radar screen because women are scared of being ruined for telling the truth. Their fear is reasonable. Look at what conservatives are doing to Christine Blasey Ford, one of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s victims. The way she has been treated is Exhibit A for why women are reluctant to come forward with their experiences. There are those who wish to keep sexual assault and harassment quiet and continuing, so they keep the victims in the shadows through shame and intimidation.
But we are having a popular awakening to the fact that sexual assault has been rampant in US history and that perpetrators cannot hide their crimes in the past. Fear is contagious, but so is courage, and here comes the boomerang.