The past week has been a circus with allegations of past sexual abuse levied against Supreme Corut nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
I don’t know what this man has or hasn’t done.
I do believe people are fundamentally innocent until proven guilty and that there needs to be evidence.
Some of the moves that the democrats in congress have taken in this process do make it seem like a bunch of political posturing (for instance, them sitting on Dr. Ford’s allegations for weeks and not revealing them until right before a vote. Was that out of their sincere concern for Dr. Ford and desire for her to be heard? Seems like they were very deliberate with that timing).
The whole situation is immensely complicated.
I do have a sincere desire to know the truth. If Kavanaugh is innocent, I think it’s a shame that he’s been dragged through the mud and that these allegations will forever stick with him. We should all care about truth for its own sake. The ends don’t justify the political means. He’s a human being who has a wife and daughters who are impacted by this. He has passed six federal background checks and has had a record which is above reproach.
It doesn’t help in our society that there can be those who are too quick to dismiss allegations of sexual abuse.
But I think some in our society want to treat these allegations almost like a person is guilty until proven innocent, which is contrary to our laws and fundamentally unjust. Many are presenting Dr. Ford’s allegations as if they are a fact. Many are acting like it’s inconceivable that what she’s saying is false.
I think it’s pretty evident that people do not always report allegations of sexual abuse and misconduct immediately when they happen. There’s been a popular hashtag on social media this week #WhyIDidntReport. Fear of not being believed, fear of ramifications, fear of losing a job, shame, feeling like they somehow brought the abuse on themselves. Many, many more reasons. I’m sympathetic to those stories.
Netflix did a documentary last year called “The Keepers” which features stories of several women who were molested by a priest at their Catholic school in the 1960s in Maryland. They had been manipulated by the priest into thinking of themselves as defiled and sinful. They felt isolated. It wasn’t talked about then the way it is now. The priest unfortunately never received justice (at least not in this world). I believe all of them.
But one thing I feel like I’m not hearing is the complexity of two sides to the coin. People do not always report legitimate instances of sexual abuse at the time. But also, the longer someone waits to report these instances, the harder it can be to find evidence or verification.
It’s very complicated. And I don’t have a solution to this problem. But I think a starting point as a society is acknowledging the complexity of these issues.
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Josh Benner is the associate pastor at Cornerstone Evangelical Free Church in Fergus Falls, Minnesota and has a Master of Divinity from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He enjoys writing about faith and culture. He lives with his wife Kari in Minnesota.