U.S. Abortion Foes Say Christine Blasey Ford Should Be Heard

Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh, who is scheduled to appear again before the Senate Judiciary Committee next week, leaves his Chevy Chase, Maryland, home Wednesday. (Win McNamee via Getty Images)
Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh, who is scheduled to appear again before the Senate Judiciary Committee next week, leaves his Chevy Chase, Maryland, home Wednesday. (Win McNamee via Getty Images)

Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court could give the anti-abortion movement a clear path to dismantle Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that legalized abortion nationwide. Professor Christine Blasey Ford’s allegation that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were high school students has the potential to jeopardize Kavanaugh’s confirmation. But that doesn’t mean all abortion rights foes are entirely dismissing her. HuffPost reached out to members of the movement. Here’s what they had to say:

Jennifer Christie, anti-abortion speaker from Virginia

I became pregnant after a brutal sexual assault by a stranger 4½ years ago. There was not a question of abortion. It didn’t occur to [my husband and me]. Everyone’s telling you you’re crazy, this is a monster’s baby. That’s not the way it feels.

I think there’s a lot of concern — at least in the community that I work with —  that Judge Kavanaugh won’t do anything to overturn Roe v. WadeI’m holding off on judging completely, but I’m cynical.

I don’t think that a woman claiming sexual assault should ever be dismissed. I think Ford needs to be heard. That’s the bottom line. And Kavanaugh also needs to have an opportunity for a fair trial.

We’re always accused of inventing stories or trying to bring people down, so I would never say that about another woman. But also, as the mother of four sons, I worry all it takes is an allegation and their lives are over.

Unfortunately, a lot of people are like, “well, why did Ford wait so many years?” I don’t think that’s a credible argument at all. It’s incredibly difficult for a woman to come forward about something like this.

I’d like to think, as a movement, we are not jumping to side with Kavanaugh or dismissing a woman’s allegation. In my circles, we’re just waiting to see. We want justice to be served.

Rebecca Kiessling, president of Save The 1

I believe that she needs to have an opportunity to be heard but disappointed to hear she won’t testify on Monday. [The accuser, who goes by Christine Blasey professionally, said through attorneys that she wants the FBI to investigate before testifying.] I was definitely concerned there could have been a potential for blocking a nomination because of an anonymous allegation. That’s not our system of justice.

I’m torn, because I’ve always said how important it is to give rape victims the benefit of the doubt. My own dear mother was a rape victim. My biological father was never convicted. But, in my situation, my mother told people right away. She told family members, friends, she went to the police, it’s in my adoption records. I know there are situations where women bury it and don’t say anything for years …. I know that’s really, really common.

I feel for women who have held this secret for so many years. It’s not easy. We’ll see what happens during the committee hearing, whether she’ll ultimately be willing to testify. I understand that’s going to be difficult, but you can’t expect to block a Supreme Court nomination with anonymous allegations.

Politics Here’s Why Ivanka Reportedly Told Trump To Drop Brett Kavanaugh

While Republicans continue to try and cram Brett Kavanaugh onto the highest court in the country, plenty of questions, many of which he has dodged, remain about both his record and his moral character. There are serious concerns about his interpretation of the law when it comes to abortion rights, same-sex marriage, executive power, and more — concerns that put him at odds with the majority of the public.

As we learned on Sunday, he is also allegedly an attempted rapist, which for many Republicans doesn’t seem to disqualify him from the lifelong appointment of Supreme Court justice. Christine Blasey Ford, the California professor who came forward and said that Kavanaugh forced himself on her in high school, is now in hiding after receiving death threats for telling her story.

But with the midterm elections (and, let’s not forget, possible impeachment) hanging over their heads, even the White House is now reportedly worried that brazen support for Kavanaugh could cost them. According to Vanity Fair ‘s reporting, Trump may be holding back from antagonizing Ford — the way he has antagonized other alleged sexual assault survivors — because he fears the Republicans will lose the House and Senate in November. Plus, White House advisors reportedly worry that even more damning information about Kavanaugh will come out.

One source told Vanity Fair that Ivanka Trump has told her father to “cut bait” and drop Kavanaugh. But we also know that whenever there’s a crisis, information inevitably trickles out about Ivanka trying to temper her father’s extreme views or reactions. It’s unclear whether she ever vehemently opposes him — it’s always a whisper in the wings, just like when she finally spoke up about family separations.

Carol Robles-Román, an attorney and women’s rights leader who has extensive experience in judicial selection and vetting, says that it’s quite possible Ford’s allegations have come up. in the past. She also says that it’s not unlikely there are more allegations against Kavanaugh.

“There’s oftentimes more than one allegation. Most women don’t complain, most women don’t report,” she tells Refinery29. “I have to assume these allegations that this professor is bringing forward were not totally unknown. I find it hard, personally, to believe that this is the very first time this is coming up. And I suspect that it probably came up in some way, some form, in one of the many positions he has been vetted for.”

When asked what she would say to those who cast doubt on whether this incident matters for Kavanaugh’s future because it allegedly happened in high school, she said, “This is an honor and a privilege that is reserved for our most brilliant jurists and those that have the utmost integrity. And if you’ve exhibited in your background violence against women, if you’ve exhibited a tendency to live in a world where misogynist things are said and done in your presence, and you have either been a part of it or stayed silent…you do not have the integrity to be a justice of the United States Supreme Court.”

To Robles-Román, the question is a moral one: Do you believe Christine Blasey Ford? In other words, why would a woman risk her entire life to come forward, and tell her therapist about the incident in 2012, if the allegations are false? It’s a question that many Republicans seem to be dodging: We posed it to every single Republican woman in the Senate, and not one has gotten back to us.

Lawmakers Judging Kavanaugh Accuser Still Can’t Fix Their Own Harassment Policy

The Senate Judiciary Committee may hear from Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of attempting to rape her when they were both teenagers. (Alex Wong via Getty Images)
The Senate Judiciary Committee may hear from Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of attempting to rape her when they were both teenagers. (Alex Wong via Getty Images)

WASHINGTON ― The Senate is rushing to address a sexual assault allegation against a Supreme Court nominee but is not rushing, at all, to finish a bill that would address sexual harassment by members of Congress.

Next Monday, the Senate Judiciary Committee may hear from Christine Blasey Ford, a psychology professor who has accused Judge Brett Kavanaugh of holding her down and attempting to rape her when they were both teenagers. He has denied the allegation and is expected to testify as well.

Meanwhile, Congress still hasn’t finalized legislation aimed at harassmentcommitted by its own members and staff, even though the House passed a bill in February and the Senate passed a measure of its own in May. The long-overdue reforms originated as a systemic response to the Me Too movement, which also led to the resignations of several lawmakers earlier this year.

The monthslong delay could mean that Congress fails to come to a deal before the end of the session, forcing them to start over next year ― or perhaps drop the matter completely.

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), who helped negotiate the Senate version of the bill alongside Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), said that attempts to resolve differences between the two measures will “probably” have to wait until after the November midterm elections. Blunt, who is the No. 3 Republican in the Senate, also expressed confidence that members of the Judiciary Committee will appropriately handle Monday’s hearing with Kavanaugh and his accuser.

“There’s never been a senator involved in a settlement,” Blunt told HuffPost on Tuesday, when asked whether the Kavanaugh allegation is putting new pressure on lawmakers to finish the sexual harassment legislation. (There have been House members who reached settlements over harassment claims.)

Blunt added that it was important senators have a “continued awareness [that] the behavior does matter and there are long-term consequences for that.”

The House and Senate bills both aim to crack down on sexual harassment and abuse in Congress. In a 2016 CQ Roll Call survey, 1 in 6 female staffers said they had been sexually harassed, while 4 in 10 said they believed it was a problem on Capitol Hill. Multiple lawmakers have stepped down over sexual harassment allegations in the last year, including Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) and Reps. Blake Farenthold, John Conyers (D-Mich.), Patrick Meehan (R-Pa.) and Trent Franks (R-Ariz.).

The current law allows members of Congress to use taxpayer funds, rather than their own money, to pay settlements to staffers who allege harassment or discrimination. It also has a series of hoops that staffers must jump through before they can go to court over such allegations, including mandatory counseling, arbitration and a 30-day “cooling off” period.

The House and Senate proposed reforms differ in key ways. The Senate bill would not require lawmakers’ settlements to be disclosed in all circumstances; the House bill would. The Senate legislation would launch investigations under the Senate ethics committee that might lead to settlements in individual cases, whereas the House bill would create a third-party process. Unlike the House bill, the Senate bill would not require lawmakers to pay for any sexual harassment or discrimination settlements from their own funds in all cases.

House staffers involved in negotiations expressed frustration in July with the fact that some female Democratic senators supported the Senate’s weaker bill, arguing that the senators’ position weakened House lawmakers’ hand and made it harder to keep strong language in a final bill.

Republicans said Tuesday that Ford’s attorney had not yet responded to multiple inquiries as to whether she will attend Monday’s Judiciary Committee hearing. The lawyer, Debra Katz, said last week that Ford would be willing to testify before the panel, however.

“I don’t really see it related to what’s going to happen on Monday, but I just feel like workplace standards need to be clear and they’re not clear yet here,” Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), who was involved in drafting the Senate bill, said Tuesday.

Democrats, meanwhile, said that Monday’s scheduled hearing with Kavanaugh and his accuser highlighted the need to update Congress’ own policies on sexual harassment. But when asked why lawmakers of both houses have struggled to reach agreement on the matter, they suggested approaching members of the opposite party.

Kavanaugh’s downfall, once impossible, now seems likely

U.S. Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh listens during his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Sept. 4. (Photo: Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

WASHINGTON — It was an easy, good summer for Brett Kavanaugh. He was nominated for the Supreme Court by President Trump in July. His credentials — Yale, coaching girls’ basketball, feeding the homeless — were repeated with such breathless reverence in the halls of Congress and on cable news that they came to seem like the feats of Hercules. He had the look. He had the votes, pundits said, including from some red-state Democrats. The confirmation would be a breeze.

But now it is just about fall, and Kavanaugh’s nomination is in peril. The allegation that he sexually assaulted Christine Blasey Ford when they were both high school students in the Washington, D.C., area in the 1980s threatens to end in ignominy his meticulous career path. Should Kavanaugh withdraw his nomination in the face of Senate support that has begun to show signs of erosion, the move would represent a remarkable defeat for an administration that, for all its daily chaos, has been able to tout the appointment of conservative judges as one of its unalloyed successes.

The allegations were first made public in a statement from Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D.-Calif., last Thursday. That statement did not reveal Ford’s name or the nature of her accusations. But the story bloomed over the weekend, so that by Monday morning the headlines blared that Ford, 51, a professor of clinical psychology at Palo Alto University, had written to her congresswoman, Rep. Anna Eshoo, about the alleged assault. In that letter, Ford said that when they were teenagers, Kavanaugh and a friend (later identified as Mark Judge) drunkenly forced her into a bedroom during a party, where Kavanaugh tried to assault her. “I feared he may inadvertently kill me,” she wrote.

But Monday did not unfold as many expected it would, with President Trump insulting Ford on Twitter, calling her credibility into question. Instead, he tweeted about steel tariffs and the investigation into his campaign’s collusion with Russia. It was left to senior adviser Kellyanne Conway to tell reporters gathered outside the West Wing, “This woman should not be insulted, and she should not be ignored.” That seemed to dash any hopes that the allegations would be immediately dismissed as a desperate attempt to prevent a conservative majority in the Supreme Court.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., the ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee, speaks as Brett Kavanaugh testifies before the committee on the third day of his confirmation hearing. (Photo: Alex Brandon/AP)

Kavanaugh, meanwhile, issued a statement of his own. He said the allegation was “completely false.” He did not name Ford, claiming that he had “no idea who was making this accusation” until she revealed herself. He promised that he would “talk to the Senate Judiciary Committee in any way the Committee deems appropriate,” ending with a reminder that the accusations were 36 years old.

But with the midterm congressional elections looming — now only 50 days away — and the Democratic Party fielding a record number of female candidates, the White House could not be thrilled at the prospect of a televised hearing in which the lurid details of a potential rape would be litigated before the American public. So while plenty of conservatives issued statements of support for Kavanaugh — some going so far as to impugn Ford’s motives — there was, at least for much of Monday morning, an unmissable silence from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Despite whatever the White House says or doesn’t say, Kavanaugh’s fate rests with several senators. Who they are could have been easily guessed by anyone strolling through the Senate office buildings on Capitol Hill. There were reporters and photographers slumped around the door leading to the offices of Sen. Susan Collins, the moderate Republican from Maine who is viewed as a potential “get” for the anti-Kavanaugh forces. A young staffer explained to the waiting scrum that it might be awhile before Collins spoke to them. The reporters remained as they were, resigned to waiting. There were similar vigils at the offices of Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, another Republican given occasional shows of independence, and Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee. Before Ford’s allegation emerged, Grassley had wanted the committee to vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination Thursday, sending it to a full Senate vote.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, talks to reporters about the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh in the wake of a woman’s accusation that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her 36 years ago. (Photo: Mike Segar/Reuters)

The reporters waited. The senators stayed in their chambers. There was, for them, no obvious advantage in commenting on a rapidly developing story about a toxic allegation. Almost any discernible position was bound to cause outrage.

Kavanaugh, meanwhile, was seen entering the White House at around 10 a.m. There, he met with chief White House counsel Donald McGahn, who had promoted his nomination to the Supreme Court, even as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had reportedly pushed for a nominee with a smaller judicial and political footprint. (In addition to his lengthy record as a judge, Kavanaugh was George W. Bush’s staff secretary and assisted in Ken Starr’s investigation into Bill Clinton.) According to the Washington Post, Trump was not involved in the discussions. For once, his advisers appeared to have prevailed. As one of them told the Post, “The president thinks it’s rough for Kavanaugh, and he’d decry the process as disgusting if he withdraws, but he’d nominate a carbon copy of Kavanaugh in a second if he goes down.”

By the time the lunch hour came around, some signs of clarity appeared about how the nomination would proceed. “Professor Ford and Judge Kavanaugh should both testify under oath before the Judiciary Committee,” Collins said in a tweet. Murkowski sounded a similar note in her statement: “Despite the length of time since the alleged incident, Dr. Ford’s allegations should be heard, and she must have an opportunity to present her story before the committee under oath, with Judge Kavanaugh having the opportunity to respond under oath as well.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., answers questions from reporters about Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. (Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Meanwhile, McConnell lamented that Democrats had forgone “the standard, bipartisan process.” Maybe so, but that hadn’t bothered him in 2016, when he refused to consider President Barack Obama’s final Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland. John Cornyn of Texas, the Senate GOP’s second-in-command and a member of the Judiciary Committee, lambasted Democrats for having “egregiously mishandled” the Kavanaugh nomination — presumably by making the accusations against him public so late in the process. Cornyn suggested that Ford’s charge was nothing but “a smear.”

As did many Trump supporters on social media. Some touted poor student ratings for Ford, failing to notice that they had found an altogether different California professor with a similar name. Others pointed out that Kavanaugh’s mother, also a judge, had been involved in foreclosure proceedings against Ford’s parents. This was true, but this was not revenge served cryogenically cold: Her ruling had been for Ford’s parents, not against them.

Abortion rights activists saw their first real opportunity to defeat Kavanaugh’s nomination. They had been trying all summer, depicting him as overly political and insufficiently honest. But none of that seemed enough to sink his nomination in the GOP-controlled chamber. Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, said Kavanaugh showed a  “complete disregard for women and our bodily autonomy.” Another name was uttered nearly as much as Kavanaugh’s: Anita Hill. In 1991, she had come forward to accuse Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual misconduct, only to have her own integrity questioned.

The solution, as far as the activists were concerned, was to stop the once-inexorable nomination from moving forward with such speed. Vanita Gupta, who heads the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, called on the Senate Judiciary Committee to “immediately halt the nomination.” She called for “a fair, comprehensive, nonpartisan investigation of Kavanaugh,” adding: “Senators and their staff are not a substitute for this process.”

Anita Hill, then a law professor at the University of Oklahoma, testified that she had been sexually harassed by Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas. (Photo: AP)

Whatever chances remained that Kavanaugh could slip through the Senate Judiciary Committee relatively unscathed vanished when Grassley announced that there would be a fresh round of hearings on the nomination next Monday. These will involve a full public airing of the allegations against Kavanaugh, a perilous prospect for a nominee already unpopular with the American public. The White House will probably do what it can to avoid that scene. That could include pushing aside a nominee who, all summer, seemed invincible. Then fall came.

Brett Kavanaugh accuser wants to cooperate on investigation but not be part of ‘bloodletting’: Attorney

Brett Kavanaugh accuser wants to cooperate on investigation but not be part of 'bloodletting': Attorney
Brett Kavanaugh accuser wants to cooperate on investigation but not be part of ‘bloodletting’: Attorney (ABC News)

Brett Kavanaugh accuser wants to cooperate on investigation but not be part of ‘bloodletting’: Attorney originally appeared on abcnews.go.com

A California psychology professor who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her in high school wants to cooperate with federal lawmakers considering the nomination, but doesn’t want to be part of a Washington “bloodletting,” her attorney said on “Good Morning America” Monday.

Christine Blasey Ford wants to speak to investigators about her allegations, but she is afraid of becoming the next Anita Hill, Ford’s attorney, Debra Katz, told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos on “GMA.”

Anita Hill testified at the confirmation hearing for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas in 1991 that he had sexually harassed her, which Thomas denied.

PHOTO: Judge Brett Kavanaugh looks on during his confirmation hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee to be Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, Sept. 4, 2018 in Washington. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Judge Brett Kavanaugh looks on during his confirmation hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee to be Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, Sept. 4, 2018 in Washington. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

Ford is “willing to cooperate,” her attorney said. “What she’s not willing to do is to be part of this bloodletting that happens in Washington.”

Katz said, “It’s not clear what the Republicans are saying. I was listening to some reporting this morning saying that they’re going to fight this tooth and nail, that they’re going to grill her. That’s hardly an effort to get into a fair and thorough investigation of what has occurred. That’s a very intimidating statement and it really is designed to scare her and make her not want to come forward.”

“What I’m saying is this has to be fair and thorough and it can’t be part of a slugging match,” Katz said. “If we’re really trying to get at the truth, the hearings should not be used to weaponize against those who accuse powerful men,” Katz said. “I think that her story has to be carefully listened to and vetted, but thus far the nominee has refused to even acknowledge if he knows her or if he went to school with her.”

Kavanaugh disputed the allegations on Friday before Ford revealed her identity in a Washington Post story on Sunday. He issued a new statement Monday morning.

“This is a completely false allegation. I have never done anything like what the accuser describes — to her or to anyone,” Kavanaugh said in his latest statement released by the White House. “Because this never happened, I had no idea who was making this accusation until she identified herself yesterday.

“I am willing to talk to the Senate Judiciary Committee in any way the Committee deems appropriate to refute this false allegation, from 36 years ago, and defend my integrity.”

PHOTO: Brett Kavanaugh listens to Senators on day three of his confirmation hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sept. 6, 2018. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images)
PHOTO: Brett Kavanaugh listens to Senators on day three of his confirmation hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sept. 6, 2018. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images)

After Ford went public in the news story Sunday, White House spokesman Raj Shah told ABC, “We are standing with Judge Kavanaugh’s denial.”

(MORE: Kavanaugh denies high school assault allegation)

Chris Christie, the former Republican governor of New Jersey and an ABC News contributor, noted on “GMA” that Ford’s allegations do not appear to have come out in Kavanaugh’s FBI background check.

“You presume that in the background investigation this did not come up. And so that also tells you something maybe about the thoroughness of the FBI investigation or maybe about the credibility of these allegations. We don’t know,” Christie said.

“Obviously, the professor here needs to be heard, needs to have her allegations looked at,” Christie said. “But also this is extraordinarily unfair to Judge Kavanaugh. This is an allegation that’s 35-plus years old and now you’re going to attempt to try to deal with that in a very truncated time.

PHOTO: Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) questions witnesses on the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh before the Senate Judiciary Committee on his nomination as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court on Capitol Hill in Washington, Sept. 7, 2018. (REX/Shutterstock)
PHOTO: Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) questions witnesses on the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh before the Senate Judiciary Committee on his nomination as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court on Capitol Hill in Washington, Sept. 7, 2018. (REX/Shutterstock

Katz said Ford, 51, initially contacted her congresswoman, Rep. Anna G. Eshoo, D-California, about her allegations and sent a letter to California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein when Kavanaugh’s name appeared on President Donald Trump’s short list of candidates to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy.

(MORE: Woman accusing Brett Kavanaugh of assault says she feared he ‘might inadvertently kill me’: Report)

Ford wanted to keep her identity confidential but realized she could not when members of the media and others began approaching her at her work and home, Katz said.

“Essentially, she made the decision not to go public and those who were not satisfied with that decision essentially created pressure for her to come forward by alerting members of the media and others who essentially started going to her classes, going to her home, invading her privacy,” Katz said on “GMA.”

PHOTO: Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, speaks during a Senate Judiciary Committee meeting on Sept. 13, 2018, in Washington. (Andrew Harnik/AP)
PHOTO: Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, speaks during a Senate Judiciary Committee meeting on Sept. 13, 2018, in Washington. (Andrew Harnik/AP)

“The very ills that she sought to prevent by choosing to make this confidential was already happening to her and she knew it was inevitable” that her identity would become known, Katz said.

Ford told the Post that the incident occurred in the 1980s when the 53-year-old Kavanaugh was a student at Georgetown Preparatory School in North Bethesda, Maryland, and she was a 15-year-old sophomore at Holton-Arms School, an all-girls school in Bethesda, Maryland.

She said she believes the year was 1982 when Kavanaugh would have been 17.

Ford said she was at a teen house party when Kavanaugh and one of his male classmates — both “stumbling drunk” — cornered her in a bedroom and Kavanaugh pinned her on her back on a bed, the paper reported. She said Kavanaugh’s friend watched as Kavanaugh groped her over her clothes and attempted to remove her clothes and the one-piece bathing suit she was wearing underneath, according to the story.

PHOTO: Protesters dressed in The Handmaid's Tale costume, protest outside the hearing room where Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh will testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill, Sept. 4, 2018, in Washington, D.C. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Protesters dressed in The Handmaid’s Tale costume, protest outside the hearing room where Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh will testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill, Sept. 4, 2018, in Washington, D.C. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Ford told the Post that when she tried to scream, Kavanaugh put his hand over her mouth. “I thought he might inadvertently kill me,” Ford said in the story. “He was trying to attack me and remove my clothing.”

She said she told no one about being allegedly attacked by Kavanaugh until 2012 when she and her husband, Russell Ford, sought couples therapy, the Post reported.

She said on the advice of her attorney she took a polygraph test, administered by a retired FBI agent. The results came back that she was truthful, according to the Post.

The Democratic Party Is Changing Forever. New York Just Showed Us How.

Despite Gov. Andrew Cuomo's easy win, insurgent progressives celebrated a near sweep of down-ballot races in New York's Democratic primaries. (Scott Heins via Getty Images)
Despite Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s easy win, insurgent progressives celebrated a near sweep of down-ballot races in New York’s Democratic primaries. (Scott Heins via Getty Images)

For many in the national media, the lead story of Thursday’s Democratic primaries in New York was centrist Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s easy win over insurgent progressive Cynthia Nixon. They took it as evidence that big money and establishment credentials were still winning out over left-wing activism. But this focus on the top line misses the real revolution, both in New York and the Democratic Party as a whole.

Thursday’s real story was that more than 1 in 5 New York Democratic state senators were swept out of office, including three-fourths of the turncoat Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) coalition and a machine politician with close ties to developers. It’s a story I’ve written about before: The Democratic Party is changing dramatically down-ballot, and the candidates who won Thursday are part of a wave that will change the party forever. The organizers and activists who beat the IDC are coming to clean up the dirtiest state senate in the country, and they are signs of how the resistance to Trump will spill over for years and years to come.

How We Got Here

New York state has voted for every Democratic president since Ronald Reagan, frequently overwhelmingly so. The state Assembly has reflected that reality, with consistent overwhelming Democratic majorities. However, except for one brief interruption in 2009, the state Senate has remained firmly under Republican Party control. Key to that control has been a group of rogue Democrats called the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) who ran as Democrats and then struck a deal to caucus with Republicans once in office.

These eight IDC members (the group started with four), along with another “Democrat” who runs on both the Democratic and Republican ballot lines but who for all intents is a Republican, have been enough to repeatedly deny Democrats a majority. This sounds complicated, but the end result is simple: Democrat Andrea Stewart-Cousins, a woman of color who should be Senate majority leader, has been replaced by white Republican John J. Flanagan. And Cuomo, who has happily facilitated the entire dynamic, has used the divided legislature as an excuse for failing to deliver on a number of Democratic policy priorities.

Jumaane Williams very nearly upset Kathy Hochul in the New York primary for lieutenant governor. (John Lamparski via Getty Images)
Jumaane Williams very nearly upset Kathy Hochul in the New York primary for lieutenant governor. (John Lamparski via Getty Images)

In a self-serving attempt to stave off progressive momentum, the IDC dissolved in April, though this isn’t the first time they’ve done so, and activists assumed that they were liable to swing back after November. In 2014, Cuomo had made a deal with the Working Families Party in which he promised to campaign for real Democrats, but, behind the scenes, he continued to funnel money and support to IDC leader Jeff Klein and his faction.

After Thursday, only two of the former IDC faction still hold their seats.

Progressive Wave, IDC Wipeout

This year, the energy to oust the IDC came from a grassroots movement, including dozens of Indivisible groups, True Blue NY and No IDC NY with national groups like Daily Kos using their email lists to fund the candidates. These groups, mirroring the post-Trump surge of activism we’ve seen in other states, have worked to field a candidate in every district, raise awareness of the IDC among Democratic primary voters, support candidates as they petition and fuel their campaigns. The movement is diverse ideologically, ranging from Hillary Clinton supporters to full-on socialists. Seasoned political professionals volunteering their time have mingled with newly energized activists. As a result, the IDC challengers were well-funded, organized and engaged in an unprecedented door-knocking campaign. The candidates came from a diverse range of backgrounds, but all stood for progressive values.

  • Education advocate and former New York City Council member Robert Jackson started campaigning basically the day he lost in 2016. That year, his IDC opponent, Marisol Alcantara, benefited from a split field and eked through with 33 percent of the vote. This year Jackson beat her by 17 percentage points.
  • Zellnor Myrie, a lawyer and lifelong resident of Brooklyn, centered his campaign on affordable housing. He electrified rooms full of volunteers and quickly gained the backing of the Brooklyn establishment. I went to one joint fundraiser where he energized the room so much that volunteers for the other candidate being hosted decided to work for “Z” instead. He won with 54 percent of the vote.
  • In Queens, Jessica Ramos, a former aide to New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, gave up a well-paying job to run against Jose Peralta, who flipped to the IDC in 2017 and reneged on his previous campaign promise to make New York a sanctuary state.
  • Another challenger, John Liu, prevailed over IDC incumbent Tony Avella (by nearly the same margin he previously lost by in 2014).
  • And the Bronx had probably the most surprising upset, where Alessandra Biaggi trounced Klein with 55 percent of the vote, despite his spending more than $2 million on the campaign.

While the candidates from New York City garnered the most attention, Rachel May’s victory in Syracuse is notable. It shouldn’t have come as a surprise, as Syracuse, the ninth poorest city in the country, has become an increasing hotbed of progressive activism, recently denying the candidate backed by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee a primary victory in New York’s 24th Congressional District. “People don’t always think of Central New York as a natural hub for progressive politics, but I think it is a place where our politics is necessary,” May told me. Her team estimates they knocked on 14,000 doors while focusing their dollars on digital, not television media.

A Data for Progress analysis found an incredibly strong pattern in Thursday's primary results: Where turnout surged, the progressive challengers did best. (Drew Angerer via Getty Images)
A Data for Progress analysis found an incredibly strong pattern in Thursday’s primary results: Where turnout surged, the progressive challengers did best. (Drew Angerer via Getty Images)

The resistance is also learning the block and tackle of campaigning and is quickly deploying those capacities. Vote Tripling, a grassroots peer-to-peer mobilization organization, texted No IDC NY supporters and got 474 volunteers to be “Vote Triplers,” who agreed to get three friends on the fence to vote for the IDC challengers. And No IDC NY worked with Creative Resistance to create ads against the IDC incumbents and deploy them with digital strategy firm The Insurrection. Volunteers from, Postcards to Voters, a nationwide group of volunteers organized by Tony McMullin, mailed 283,857 handwritten election reminders to voters in IDC districts. May tweeted that she kept running into people who were talking about them. One voter she met even carried the postcard she received to show people.

The resistance groups like No IDC NY ran highly professional organizations and spent more money than many of the state’s established players. Analysis of New York Board of Elections data provided by No IDC NY and up to date through Sept. 1 suggest they ended up spending slightly more than WFP and were responsible for the most spending of any group in the Liu, Ramos, Jackson and May races. All told, No IDC NY made over 160,000 contacts, brought in more than $250,000 that was split among the candidates, executed a targeted digital mobilization campaign (outspending the IDC incumbents on social) and provided more funding to challenger campaigns than any other organization. Jim Casteleiro, a former digital operative for Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), noted with glee: “All the money in the world can’t help you if you don’t know how to spend it.” The organization will continue advocating moving forward, another sign of how Thursday night’s results will reverberate for years or even decades.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) endorsed four of the anti-IDC challengers running for the New York State Senate. (SOPA Images via Getty Images)
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) endorsed four of the anti-IDC challengers running for the New York State Senate. (SOPA Images via Getty Images)

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who endorsed four of the anti-IDC challengers tells me, “Last night’s state Senate races were a victory for accountability and show the importance of advocating, organizing and voting. It is with our vote that we can elect leaders who will work for us and not for their own self-interests. These candidates are not afraid to speak truth to power and will provide the fresh leadership our state needs.”

She highlighted Ramos and Biaggi, women who would “put the needs of New Yorkers first and fight the important battles ― from improving access to health care and the quality of our public schools, to environmental protection and affordable housing, to the urgent need to guarantee a woman’s right to choose.”

Kevin Morris an urban planning student at New York University’s Wagner School of Public Service, analyzed precinct figures for Data for Progress and found an incredibly strong pattern: Where turnout surged, the challengers did best. “New York state’s conservative leadership relies on suppressing turnout, but where that was overcome last night, progressive candidates triumphed,” he told me. The charts below show the election night results (available here) as a share of active registered Democrats (excluding inactive).

Mom of alleged MS-13 victim killed by SUV at girl’s memorial

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FILE- In this Monday, April 24, 2017 file photo, Evelyn Rodriguez, whose teen-aged daughter was brutally slain by MS-13 gang members in 2016, listens during a news conference by Suffolk County officials in Hauppauge, N.Y. Rodriguez recognized by President Donald Trump at the State of the Union after MS-13 gang members allegedly killed her daughter was struck and killed Friday, Sept. 14, 2018 by a car at the girl’s memorial. (AP Photo/Frank Eltman, File)

FILE- In this Monday, April 24, 2017 file photo, Evelyn Rodriguez, whose teen-aged daughter was brutally slain by MS-13 gang members in 2016, listens during a news conference by Suffolk County officials in Hauppauge, N.Y. Rodriguez recognized by President Donald Trump at the State of the Union after MS-13 gang members allegedly killed her daughter was struck and killed Friday, Sept. 14, 2018 by a car at the girl’s memorial. (AP Photo/Frank Eltman, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — A grieving New York mother recognized by President Donald Trump at the State of the Union in his campaign against deadly MS-13 gang violence was struck by an SUV and killed at her slain daughter’s memorial site Friday after a heated confrontation with the driver.

Evelyn Rodriguez was hit around 4 p.m. in Brentwood, near where her 16-year-old daughter Kayla Cuevas’ body was found beaten and slashed two years ago to the day, police said. Cuevas’ friend, 15-year-old Nisa Mickens was also killed.

The community is the epicenter of the fight against MS-13 violence on Long Island.

Rodriguez and the driver, a relative of a person who lives near the memorial, were arguing over its placement, police said. Rodriguez, 50, and another person were seen standing in the street and yelling at the driver of the SUV before the vehicle sped forward and struck her.

News 12 Long Island aired video of the argument but didn’t show Rodriguez being hit.

The driver, who wasn’t hurt, remained at the scene and called 911, police said. They have not released her name.

Trump said in a tweet: “My thoughts and prayers are with Evelyn Rodriguez this evening, along with her family and friends. #RIPEvelyn.”

So far, there is no evidence of ties to MS-13 or any indication that the crash was retribution by the gang, a law enforcement official told The Associated Press. The official was not authorized to discuss an ongoing investigation publicly and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity.

U.S. Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., who had worked with Rodriguez on a campaign ad, was on his way to a vigil at the memorial site when he learned that she had been hit. He said it happened about an hour before a service was scheduled to begin.

“It’s a tragedy beyond belief,” King told the AP. “Everyone is in shock. What more could happen to one woman?”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo praised Rodriguez’s “tremendous courage” and directed the State Police to assist the investigation into her death.

Suffolk County District Attorney Tim Sini, who was police commissioner when Cuevas and Mickens were killed, said Rodriguez was “one of the strongest people” he’s ever met and that he’s heartbroken over her death.

“She was a fierce advocate for her hometown of Brentwood and was fearless in her fight to put an end to the violence caused by MS-13 to ensure that other parents never have to endure the pain she suffered,” Sini said.

Rodriguez spoke out against the gang and the local school district after Cuevas and Mickens were attacked with machetes and baseball bats. Mickens’ body was found near an elementary school on Sept. 13, 2016. Cuevas’ body was found the next day, a few hundred feet away.

The girls’ alleged killers, who were arrested along with about a dozen other suspected MS-13 members, are facing murder charges that could result in the death penalty.

MS-13, or the Mara Salvatrucha, is blamed for dozens of killings on Long Island since 2016. Trump has blamed the violence on lax immigration policies.

Rodriguez stood with Cuevas’ father, Freddy Cuevas, and Mickens’ parents at the State of the Union in January and sat alongside Trump and King at a gang violence forum in May on Long Island.

“My daughter, Kayla, was a beautiful girl,” Rodriguez said at the forum. “She had dreams, and they took that away from her. That’s not right. And how these kids were murdered, tortured, is unacceptable.”

Prosecutors say Kayla was targeted because of ongoing disputes with gang members at her school. They say Nisa was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Rodriguez filed a $110 million lawsuit last December against the Brentwood School District, claiming it ignored warnings that MS-13 members were threatening Kayla.

Rodriguez said that employees failed to act when told that the girl was being threatened. The lawsuit says the bullying went on for two years before the teenager was killed.

Rodriguez told a House subcommittee last year that residents were living in fear and were afraid to let their kids play outside.

“The MS-13 gang is so unpredictable you just don’t know who is who with them,” Rodriguez said. “MS-13 is a new breed of murderers, they are children, kids killing kids, and as they continue to grow, so does their techniques of recruiting helpless kids into their wicked actions.”

MS-13 is believed by federal prosecutors to have thousands of members across the U.S., primarily immigrants from Central America.

It has a stronghold in Los Angeles, where it emerged in the 1980s as a neighborhood street gang, and is suspected of violence in cities and suburbs across the United States.

Cuevas and Mickens’ deaths put a sharpened focus on what had already been a spate of gang violence on Long Island. MS-13 has been blamed for more than two dozen slayings across a wide swath of the island since January 2016.

Last month, an MS-13 member pleaded guilty to participating in the brutal massacre of four young men in nearby Central Islip.

Josue Portillo, 17, admitted to planning the April 2017 killings with other MS-13 defendants because he said they believed the four were rival gang members, prosecutors said. The victims were lured to a park and attacked with machetes, knives and clubs.

Search Of Botham Jean’s Apartment Ignites Outrage Over Victim’s ‘Character Assassination’

The lawyer for the family of the Dallas man fatally shot by a police officer in his own apartment says police are trying to discredit the victim.

Botham Shem Jean, 26, died on Sept. 6 after off-duty officer Amber Guyger walked into his apartment, allegedly thinking she was in hers (which is located one floor below) and shot him twice.

The casket carrying Botham Shem Jean arrived at the Greenville Avenue Church of Christ in Richardson, Texas on Thursday. (Stewart F. House via Getty Images)
The casket carrying Botham Shem Jean arrived at the Greenville Avenue Church of Christ in Richardson, Texas on Thursday. (Stewart F. House via Getty Images)

Attorney Lee Merritt, who represents Jean’s family, criticized the police’s search warrant, which was obtained in the hours following the shooting, as an attempt to discredit Jean after his death.

“They immediately began to smear him,” Merritt told The Associated Press.

According to a search warrant affidavit released on Thursday, police seized two fired cartridge casings, one laptop, a ballistic police vest, a backpack with police equipment and paperwork, two radio frequency identification keys, 10.4 grams of marijuana (equal to less than half an ounce) and a marijuana grinder, among other things, from Jean’s apartment.

The affidavit didn’t identify who owned which items, according to a copy obtained by NBC Dallas-Fort Worth.

Attorney Benjamin Crump, who is also representing Jean’s family, told NBC DFWthat Jean’s family does not know who the marijuana belongs to. Still, Crump maintained that the seized drugs were “nothing but a disgusting attempt to assassinate his character now that they have assassinated his person.”

Cornell William Brooks, the former president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, agreed:

Cornell William Brooks

@CornellWBrooks

This is the postmortem character assassination of .

This character attack is like when Emmet Till was accused of leering at a White woman (who lied) to legitimate his lynching.

An after death marijuana possession charge does NOT legitimate a homicide.

Although the search warrant affidavit for Jean’s apartment was made public on Thursday, the same the day as Jean’s funeral, one for Guyger’s apartment wasn’t. The Dallas Police Department and Texas Rangers did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment on whether her apartment was searched during the investigation.

David Menschel, an Oregon-based criminal defense attorney and activist, called the release of the search warrant “propaganda.”

“An off-duty cop goes into the wrong apartment and shoots the man who lives there dead, and so, as we’ve come to expect, local law enforcement is doing what it can to cast aspersions at the innocent victim — to suggest he was ‘no angel’ — and therefore apparently deserved to be shot dead in his own home,” Menschel told HuffPost. “And much of the media plays along, amplifying law enforcement’s propaganda.”

After the affidavit was released, Fox 4 News published a story about the search of Jean’s home. The headline, which has since been changed, highlighted the marijuana in the search warrant affidavit without mentioning any other items that were seized from Jean’s apartment.

FOX 4 NEWS

@FOX4

DEVELOPING: Search warrant: Marijuana found in Botham Jean’s apartment after deadly shooting http://bit.ly/2D2fd0u 

People on Twitter called Fox 4′s headline irresponsible and reckless, noting that the marijuana discovery was irrelevant to Jean’s death.

Tom Angell, a marijuana activist and publisher of the news site Marijuana Moment, said that Fox 4 News’ headline wrongly suggested that Jean was at fault for his death.

“For Fox 4 to frame and play up this finding in the way that it did — implying that cannabis use might have justified his murder — is irresponsible reporting,” Angell told HuffPost. It “demonstrates how people of color, even in death, suffer disproportionate and discriminatory treatment for something many white people do with impunity.”

Texas Civil Rights Project

@TXCivilRights

This is irresponsible and disgraceful. Botham Jean was killed in his own home and his life matters. https://twitter.com/FOX4/status/1040361795519541249 

Kristine Phillips 🤦‍♀️

@kristinegWP

They’ve changed the headline: Lawyers “disgusted” by release of search warrant showing marijuana found in Botham Jean’s apartment

Warrants are routinely made public, filed unsealed in criminal cases. We report what’s in them when they’re relevant. This wasn’t. https://twitter.com/abbydphillip/status/1040386322995789827 

Patton Oswalt

@pattonoswalt

In the criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups: the police, who shoot them in their homes; and the district attorneys, who release irrelevant search warrants after the fact. These are their bullshit stories. https://twitter.com/fox4/status/1040361795519541249 

Delaney Tarr

@delaneytarr

If Botham Jean was a white man, would the media portray him as a drug user, or as the homicide VICTIM he is?

I think we all know the answer. https://twitter.com/fox4/status/1040361795519541249 

Matt Schweich, deputy director of the policy reform group Marijuana Policy Project, questioned why officials haven’t released a search warrant for Guyger’s apartment.

“A small amount of personal marijuana is irrelevant to this tragedy. It’s as relevant as a six-pack of beer,” Schweich told HuffPost.

“If an innocent victim’s privacy is to be invaded through the release of a search warrant, then at the very least the perpetrator’s privacy should be invaded in the same manner,” Schweich added.

The search warrant also contradicted Guygers’ arrest affidavit, which was released on Monday. In the affidavit, Guyger claimed that Jean was across the room in her apartment at the time of the shooting. The search warrant, which was signed by a Dallas police officer, said that Jean confronted Guyger at the front door.

In the arrest affidavit, Guyger also said she was able to enter Jean’s apartment because the door was slightly ajar, and claimed she fired at Jean after he ignored her “verbal commands.”

Guyger was arrested and charged with manslaughter on Sunday. She was later released on a $300,000 bond, per CBS News.

The Catholic Church Is Losing Its Most Devoted Followers

I fear what will happen if conservative factions in Rome succeed in ousting Pope Francis. (Max Rossi / Reuters)
I fear what will happen if conservative factions in Rome succeed in ousting Pope Francis. (Max Rossi / Reuters)

If the Catholic church survives its latest scandal — the concealment of 300 predator priests in six Pennsylvania dioceses — it will be because of the mestizo and indigenous populations of the United States and Central and South America.

Indigenous communities are at the heart of the Catholic church; in the U.S., they represent one-third of the approximately 70 million Catholics. For these communities in the Americas, Catholicism is more than just a religion. It’s a culture and way of life, one that respects liberation theology and activism.

Many of my happiest memories from childhood take place in Native and Latino churches. I was raised in the spiritual traditions of the American Southwest; my grandmother attended mass with her fellow members of New Mexico’s Laguna Pueblo at the Mission San José de Laguna church. She washed laundry for a living and, in an era before government assistance, went without meals when there wasn’t enough to feed her 10 children.

As a child, I always loved the cool interior of the church’s thick, white-washed walls, the elaborately carved wooden doors, the animal skin adorning the altar and the sanctuary ceiling painted with Laguna symbols. For me, incense meant cedar and sage, and the “communion of saints” referred to my ancestors. An Eagle Dance was held outside the Mission before midnight mass on Christmas Eve. I slept on soft bosoms during church and could smell my aunts’ sandalwood oil during the homily. I learned to love the rituals, my ancestral land and my family, which felt deeply interconnected.

Then, I grew older and learned the church’s history: that the Missions we worshipped in were built on the backs of American Indian slaves. That conservative priests had long preached damnation for things like abortion and birth control. For the first time in my life, I felt conflicted about my family’s Catholicism.

During my childhood in the 1980s, Mother Teresa of Calcutta visited Gallup, New Mexico. To this day, the Missionaries of Charity offer aid Gallup’s oppressed, serving the Native population by running a shelter and soup kitchen. Like Sister Katherine Drexel, a wealthy heiress from Pennsylvania who was canonized in 2000, these nuns have long focused on the racial injustices in America, and their calling is common among women of the church.

If my choice and inner conflict reflect those of other Natives and Latinos, it may be too late for the church to keep younger and more liberal generations engaged.

Individuals like the sisters of Gallup kept me (and I’m sure plenty others) in the church even after I started to feel conflicted. Today, they offer an alternative vision of what the Catholic Church could be. And they follow in a long tradition of historical luminaries like Archbishop Óscar Romero, Angela of Foligno and Bartolomé de las Casas who were willing to give their lives and wealth to help the poor and oppressed. Priests with a similar zeal for the apostolic life inspired my great-grandparents to move beyond the loss of their ancestral lands and their traditional ways of life. They lured them into adapting and trusting Westerners. They inspired them to find the grace to forgive.

Younger generations, too, wanted to forgive. We wanted to follow our grandparents’ Native Catholicism. As did many liberal members of my generation, I once clung to the promises of Vatican II, a three-year assembly of Catholic officials that updated the church’s role in a changing world. I wanted to attend family weddings and funerals with a clear conscious and go to mass with my parents when I visited home. I told myself it was my job to stay in the church and change what I didn’t like from within. I prayed women would be able to join the priesthood. Coming from a matrilineal tribe made it easy to imagine women in power.

And with Pope Francis, I gained hope. He comes from Latin America, and he knows the history of liberation theology well. He allows mass to be said in indigenous languages and was the first church leader to apologize to Natives for historic wrongs. He softened the church’s stance on LGBTQ or “two-spirit” people (as indigenous people often refer to members of the LGBTQ community). Prior to becoming pope, he lived in an apartment instead of a cardinal’s opulent residence and refused to ride in limousines, preferring public transportation. Even his name appealed to me, since the Umbrian St. Francis spoke for the earth and was said to tame wolves.

However, I stopped going to mass not long after our family moved to the Midwest for work. We initially attended Holy Infant church in Ballwin, Missouri, even though the culture there felt different. But when the most charismatic priest there was arrested for reportedly sexually abusing minors, our Sundays swiftly fell apart. The arrested priest ― the hip, young Father Vatterot ― taught in Catholic communities in Central America before coming to Missouri. I had to ask my children if he’d ever bothered them. I can’t describe my relief when they said no.

Another sexually abusive priest emerged in our lives a couple of years later, this time in the Italian hometown of my children’s father, where each had gone to school for one semester in the fifth grade. Father Pierangelo had been to dinner at my in-laws’ house on numerous occasions. He liked to perform magic tricks for the kids. I chided myself for being unable to recognize him as a child predator.

If my choice and inner conflict reflect those of other Natives and Latinos, it may be too late for the church to keep younger and more liberal generations engaged.

I’d long stopped attending church regularly by that point, but I still sometimes considered going to confession and making a return. After learning of Father Pierangelo’s crimes, I knew I’d never formally belong to the Catholic Church again.

And if my choice and inner conflict reflect those of other Natives and Latinos, it may be too late for the church to keep younger and more liberal generations engaged. The Catholic faithful in the U.S. Southwest and Latin America began to leave the church in numbers at the start of the 21st century. Even with Pope Francis’ recent support of immigration, LGBTQ rights and the Paris Agreementon climate change, millennials are horrified by the wrongs the church has perpetuated over centuries ― most recently, the sexual scandals that reveal its continued refusal to protect children.

This case in Pennsylvania involves six of 145 dioceses nationwide. It’s unimaginable that all but two of the alleged predators may go unpunished due to the statute of limitations. It’s also unimaginable that the Catholic Church has shown more sympathy for its fate than for the fate of their victims. The Bible says it’s better for an individual who hurts children to tie a large millstone around his neck and jump into the water, yet the same men who preach the sanctity of innocence harm our little ones with impunity.

Today, I tell my children to approach the Creator without an intermediary. I’m born alone, and I die alone. No one can breathe the spirit of life in my body but me.

This doesn’t mean I don’t miss the church, though. I still walk over to the cathedral near my home in St. Louis to read the plaque with the Beatitudes.Blessed are the meek, it promises, for they shall inherit the earth.

I shudder to imagine what will happen to the Catholic Church that I and many other mestizo and indigenous people once loved if conservative factions in Rome succeed in ousting Pope Francis and undo the progress that’s been made. It’s hard to admire any Catholic leader who doesn’t protect the innocent or see Jesus as a dark-skinned refugee born in a manger.

The church’s only hope is to move beyond the truth and reconciliation committees, the special masses and the talk. Radical action must be taken. Women must be allowed positions of leadership in the church. Priests who wish to marry and have families must be allowed to do so. “Two-spirit” people must be accepted as full members of the community.

And most importantly, priests who commit crimes must be reported to the police immediately.

Deborah Taffa is an enrolled member of the Yuma Indian Nation and a descendant of Laguna Pueblo in New Mexico. She teaches creative nonfiction at Webster University in St. Louis and will be writing season three of the PBS series “America From the Ground Up.” A Public Space fellow and an Ellen Meloy Desert Writer’s Award recipient, her work has appeared in Salon, The Rumpus and other places.

Hurricane Florence may bring unprecedented flooding, historical rainfall to North Carolina

Hurricane Florence may bring unprecedented flooding, historical rainfall to North Carolina originally appeared on abcnews.go.com

Hurricane Florence, a dangerous Category 4 storm, is expected to bring catastrophic flooding to the Southeast and may dump as much as 40 inches of rain in North Carolina alone.

The rainfall could be historic and the flooding unprecedented, the National Weather Service office in Newport, North Carolina, warned Wednesday.

“This will likely be the storm of a lifetime for portions of the Carolina coast, and that’s saying a lot given the impacts we’ve seen from Hurricanes Diana, Hugo, Fran, Bonnie, Floyd, and Matthew,” according to one National Weather Service meteorologist in Wilmington, North Carolina. “I can’t emphasize enough the potential for unbelievable damage from wind, storm surge, and inland flooding with this storm.”

With the storm not making landfall until at least Friday, residents in at least three states have more time to evacuate and prepare.

PHOTO: People drive over a drawbridge in Wrightsville Beach, N.C., as they evacuate the area in advance of Hurricane Florence, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018. (AP)
PHOTO: People drive over a drawbridge in Wrightsville Beach, N.C., as they evacuate the area in advance of Hurricane Florence, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018. (AP)
PHOTO: The bread aisle at Walmart is empty two days before Hurricane Florence is expected to strike Wilmington, N.C., Sept. 12, 2018. (Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA via Shutterstock)
PHOTO: The bread aisle at Walmart is empty two days before Hurricane Florence is expected to strike Wilmington, N.C., Sept. 12, 2018. (Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA via Shutterstock)

(MORE: Hurricane Florence’s path: What to expect and when)

Here is the latest:

— Overnight the storm shifted south, Brock Long, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, told “Good Morning America” Wednesday. “This is a highly dynamic situation that requires constant monitoring,” he said.

— Now that the path has moved south, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal on Wednesday issued an emergency declaration for all counties.

PHOTO: An ABC News weather map shows the satellite and path for Hurricane Florence on Sept. 12, 2018. (ABC News)
PHOTO: An ABC News weather map shows the satellite and path for Hurricane Florence on Sept. 12, 2018. (ABC News)

(MORE: Couple who lost a home to Hurricane Sandy now grappling with Myrtle Beach evacuation: ‘I want to sit down and sob’)

— The coast of the Carolinas will begin to feel Florence’s wrath Wednesday night or Thursday morning with gusty winds and increasing surf.

— A chance for tornadoes begins Thursday as the storm meanders near or over the Carolinas.

— The storm is expected to make landfall Friday or Saturday.

— Regardless of where Florence makes landfall — either North Carolina, South Carolina or Georgia — the impact will be extreme along the Southeast coast and the threat to life from storm surge and rainfall will cover a large area, the National Hurricane Center warned.

— The Carolinas should expect hurricane-force winds and heavy rainfall from Thursday through Saturday and possibly into Sunday.

— The life-threatening rain may last for days, flooding tens of thousands of structures, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said Wednesday.

— Thousands of people are already in shelters, Cooper said.

PHOTO: Rainfall could be as much as 40 inches locally along the North Carolina coast. (ABC News)
PHOTO: Rainfall could be as much as 40 inches locally along the North Carolina coast. (ABC News)
PHOTO: Hurricane warnings, watches and tropical storm watches are now in place for the South Carolina and North Carolina coasts. (ABC News)
PHOTO: Hurricane warnings, watches and tropical storm watches are now in place for the South Carolina and North Carolina coasts. (ABC News)

Dangerous storm surge

Florence will also bring life-threatening storm surge wherever it makes landfall, warned Long, a North Carolina native who lived through Hurricane Hugo in 1989.

“This is going to be a big hit with storm surge at the coast,” he said. “People do not live and survive to tell the tale about what their experience is like with storm surge. It’s the most deadly part of the hurricane that comes in, it causes the most amount of destruction.”PHOTO: Ever stared down the gaping eye of a category 4 hurricane? It's chilling, even from space. #HurricaneFlorence #Horizons (Alexander Gerst/Twitter)