An Idaho state official and former lawmaker is facing pushback for his tweets over the weekend about sexual assault allegations against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
Marv Hagedorn, chief administrator of the Idaho Division of Veteran Services and former longtime Republican legislator from Meridian, joked on Twitter about the allegations against Kavanaugh by three women from Kavanaugh’s high school and college years.
“Two ladies have come forward describing how Kavanaugh actually intentionally flashed them with his genitalia uncovered while trying to urinate on them! Regardless that he was a newborn, these 2 Nurses have been scared & need an FBI investigation! #InvestigateKavanaugh,” the original tweet said.
After he received over a dozen negative messages from followers in response to the tweet, Hagedorn issued a second one in an attempt to clear up the controversy.
“What was meant as a bad joke was insensitive to many, I apologize,” Hagedorn said in the follow-up tweet. “It was meant to make us ask ourselves, ‘When is it too late to speak up?’ Sexual trauma is serious and real, what we are witnessing is sending the message that it’s ok not to speak up! It’s not!! #WhyIDidn’tReport.”
Hagedorn did not respond to a call for comment Monday. Gov. Butch Otter appointed him head of the Idaho Division of Veteran Services on July 30. When asked for comment, Otter’s press secretary Jon Hanian said the governor is on a trade mission to Canada and was unavailable, so the office would not issue a comment. Idaho GOP Communications Director Mary Strow could not be reached for comment.
The Idaho Coalition Against Sexual & Domestic Violence condemned Hagedorn’s comments late Monday. Annie Pelletier, the organization’s director of law & policy, said Hagedorn’s comments “belittled survivors and their courage.”
“While we appreciate Mr. Hagedorn’s willingness to apologize, his apology does not reflect an understanding of the larger cultural aspects that support sexual violence, lead to survivors not reporting sexual violence, and the long-term impact sexual violence has on people’s lives,” she wrote in an email.
This is not the first time an official from Idaho has taken heat for comments about sexual assault. Late last month, Nez Perce County Sheriff Joe Rodriguez apologized for a meme featuring an old woman with the text “My (butt) was groped in 1886 and I waited till now to tell about it.” The meme was posted to his Facebook page and later deleted, according to The Lewiston Tribune.
Rodriguez said the image was posted by his wife who did not realize she was not on her own account when she shared it, and as soon as he learned about it he removed it.
“I don’t take anything of this sort lightly,” Rodriquez told the Tribune. “I don’t care if it was 30 years ago. It takes a lot for someone to come forward and say, ‘This happened to me.’”