On Friday, E. Jean Carroll, the longtime advice columnist at Elle magazine, detonated a bombshell–she claimed Donald Trump had sexually assaulted her sometime in 1995 or 1996. That makes her at least the 22nd woman to accuse Trump of sexual assault.
Anyone who has been paying attention knows what was going to happen next. On Monday, Carroll told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota that she was carpetbombed with death threats in the weekend since publishing her accusations in New York magazine. Watch here.
Carroll said she had stayed offline altogether since her claims against Trump went live, and only learned about the threats via friends. She said the only reason she looked like “a happy woman” that morning was that she hadn’t actually read this bilge. She also said she was unnerved at the thought of potentially confronting Trump.
Speaking as a survivor of domestic violence, I can see where Jean is coming from. Just as the thought of being in the same room with a woman who emotionally abused me still sends a chill down my spine, there’s little doubt being in the same room with Trump makes Carroll’s hair stand on end.
But rabidly pro-Trump pastor Jesse Lee Peterson saw something else. Through his red-tinted blinders, Peterson saw someone attacking God’s chosen one.
Really, Jesse? So just because Carroll is spooked at the thought of confronting Trump, she should be automatically dismissed as a liar? This would be breathtakingly tone-deaf even if it wasn’t coming from a guy who holds himself out as a pastor.
But then again, considering Peterson’s record, his cheap shot at Jean should come as no surprise. This is a man who had no qualms about calling Omarosa a “dirty dog” for daring to turn on Trump. This is a man who merrily joined Trump in calling Stormy Daniels “horseface.” This is a man who believes Bill O’Reilly’s ouster from Fox News was an effort by liberal activists to take down “white men of power.”
Lawyer and New America fellow Jill Filipovic rightly notes in a CNN op-ed that the pigweed Carroll is facing now is exactly why victims of sexual assault wait years to come forward, if they come forward at all. I’d add something further. It’s even worse when some of the very people who should be lifting victims up are instead kicking them in the teeth and several other places.
Peterson’s smear job on Jean is exactly the kind of thing that a lot of women face in their churches when they come forward with claims of being sexually assaulted. He is merely saying in public what a lot of Trump supporters are thinking in private. If there is any doubt that it is past time for a very long and very painful national conversation on how we respond to sexual assault, this should erase it.
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